VeggyKart is taking small but steady steps to expand its reach to Delhi and Noida over the next two months. Talking to Progressive Grocer, Co-Founder and CEO VeggyKart.com, Ravi Pahuja shares his future plans for the company and how it wants to move forward to meet the expectations of its growing number of customers…
In India, online grocery market is still evolving. What scope does it offer to you?
The online grocery retail market is growing at 35-40 per cent in the metros and other large cities in the country. Online services off er convenience, and we want to deliver that convenience complemented by hygiene and premiumness to customers. Our aim is to deliver great products in realistic time frames. With perishables such as fresh produce, freshness and quality are paramount for consumers.
At VeggyKart, we provide fresh and hand-picked products for health and qualityconscious buyers.
Tell us about VeggyKart’s current phase of development? What are your expansion and growth plans?
Well, we currently have 1000-plus customers registered with us. We are looking to expand the reach of our format to Delhi and Noida over the next two months and at servicing 500 orders per day in Gurgaon itself very soon. We will also be establishing presence in the top 20 cities, including tier-2 and 3 markets, in about a year’s time.
How you are going about achieving your marketing and promotional goals?
We, at present, are reaching out to customers through newspaper advertising and social media campaigns. Our communication highlights our quality and same-day delivery commitments. We are looking to implement loyalty programme along with deals and discounts to increase and retain our customer base.
Technology is integral to modern retail, more so for e-commerce. How are you leveraging technology at VeggyKart?
Technology is certainly helping e-commerce to make a compelling and convenient offer to the tech-savvy shoppers, combined with applications that track everything from the time an order is placed to delivery and devices that help during procurement. At each step, simple technology is helping us save time and money. And, also allowing us to carry out quick delivery, off er latest products, predict customer behaviour and keep a tight leash on expenses.
Modern F&G retail is gradually moving towards Omnichannel. Your views…
In the digital era, where buyers are increasingly shopping through their desktops, laptops and mobile devices, there is no doubt that retailers across the industry may be thinking to ramp up their investments in e-commerce and Omnichannel retailing. However, executing Omnichannel retail is extremely complex as there are considerable practical obstacles to overcome – like the logistics challenge, where cost-to-serve will vary widely, but the price offered must be consistent; the planning challenge, where meeting a wide range of needs in terms of customer requirements and behaviour in the various formats may be very difficult; shopper challenge, where
Omnichannel retail may encourage shoppers to engage in more unpredictable, spontaneous behaviours raising the likelihood of disappointment. But, we believe that whatever the future brings, we can be sure of one thing – future retail will not be the same as current retail.
How do you view competition from offline retailers and other online players?
We welcome competition in home delivery of fresh fruits, vegetables and grocery segment since the market potential is huge. As VeggyKart is still in its initial stages of business operations, it is imperative to build a customer base. As a company, we believe that we have a unique approach and a unique proposition to bring to this market.
Our endeavour is to build value for a profitable growth. Big e-tailers are also offering grocery.
As a start-up, what are your key concerns as they are also eyeing the grocery market?
The fruits and vegetables industry in India is currently valued at Rs 4 lakh crore, dairy products at Rs 3.6 lakh crore and grocery at Rs 20 lakh crore. We strongly believe that there are 10-20 per cent consumers in every geography who would want the convenience of getting these products delivered at their doorsteps. Therefore, more the number of players, more would be the competition. New players will ensure that the service standard improves and could bring increased competition among players to retain their existing customers. We all would collectively benefit, consumers as well as the industry, on the whole.
What are your plans to raise the capital for growth and expansions?
We had recently raised seed fund from angel investors and now are planning to raise our series A funds for NCR expansion, for which we are in talks with interested VC funds. I hope to close the deal in August itself.
How do you plan to use the money?
We used the early stage funding primarily for bootstrapping the venture while we are looking to invest a significant portion of the upcoming proceeds to acquire customers and prove our concept in Gurugram. The funds will also be used in marketing eff orts to build a strong and distinctive brand.
What is your business model and how do you think it is suitable for scalability?
Presently, VeggyKart is working on a hyper local online model. Very soon, we are introducing the market place model also, and both will co-exist. Th e procurement, handling, storage and supply of fresh fruits and vegetables is an entirely different ball game from storing and supplying cell-phones, for instance. However, an efficient supply chain, quality warehousing and storage facilities, and an efficient delivery system will help in dealing with these challenges.
Our focus is on investing in technology so that we can operate on same-day purchase inventory model and focus on customer-retention; tying up with specialist companies at various steps of the value chain has also helped us reduce the burden.
How tough or easy was it for you to convince the investors of your business model? What are the investors expectations?
Venture funding works like gears. A typical start-up goes through several rounds of funding, and at each round you want to take just enough money to reach the speed where you can shift into the next gear. It is always better for founders to understand funding better—not just the mechanics of it, but what investors are thinking. Investors look for a validated business model as well as systems that are ready to support efficient scaling up.