Grocery etailing (FMCG/CPG) can’t be seen and treated as other categories: Vijay Singh, CEO, Aaramshop

30th Aug 2013
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Online retailing, which currently constitutes 6% of total ecommerce market in India, is set to touch $76 billion by 2021 in the country, according to a study by Technopak. While etailing-friendly categories such as electronics, books and apparels have been contributing sizeable chunk, busy lifestyle in metros led to the growth of grocery over web. Currently, there are several players like Zopnow, Bigbasket, and Puneexpress catering to the consumer product goods (CPG). Aaramshop, a hybrid retailing platform and one of the earlier evangelizers in the space, has so far partnered with thousands of retailers across 30 Indian cities. Recently, Aaramshop expanded its operation to Pakistan through local partnership. To understand about the journey of Aaramshop so far, YourStory spoke to Vijay Singh, CEO and founder, Aaramshop. Edited excerpts of the interaction:


Reachability to Shoppability

Take us through the journey of AaramShop since its inception.

It has been a fantastic run so far, with lots of learning and a lot of “1st time” implementations. We are thrilled that the idea of AaramShop – that of hybrid retailing, wherein, we integrate the benefits offered by the digital mediums with the robust on-ground presence of neighborhood-based retail stores (or AaramShops as we like to call them) – has started to emerge as an acceptable solution to address the complex issues that surround the FMCG ecommerce business.

There has been predictable growth in the usage of digital technologies across all the members of the retail ecosystem – the consumers, the retailers and the brands. This increased interest and adoption has been good for us.

Give us an idea about the growth in terms of retailers live on the platform and the number of consumers buying from them.

We have seen tremendous growth over the years, and today we have thousands of partner retailers across 30 Indian cities. But more than the number of the retailers, what we are excited about is how we have been able to influence consumer engagement with the retailers.

One of the biggest problems that the neighborhood-based retailers face is the inability to market their offers and promotions to their consumers. As a result, the value-conscious consumers end up doing only low-ticket/ top-up buying with their neighborhood retailers. However, with the use of AaramShop’s hyper local marketing solution called AaramOffers, the retailers are able to create offers and present them to their local consumers to ensure they can generate additional business – both online and offline.

Which cities facilitate maximum transaction at AaramShop? 

Predictably, the maximum action is in the major metros, where the consumers’ lifestyle is the busiest. However, we do see increased traffic from the non-metro locations and some of our recent innovations, for example, the shopping lists (Quick Order Lists) are services that we believe are important to consumers everywhere.

AaramShop has been around for two years. How has been the evolution of etailing in grocery space? What are the challenges, which are still pertinent in this space?

When we started off, there was no etailing in the FMCG space; today, I know that every FMCG organisation is looking at the space seriously, both in terms of consumer engagement and sales. However, there is a long way to go.

I believe the biggest issue is that folks are looking at this space (for FMCG brands) in the same light as they have for categories like books and apparels and they are trying to deploy the same tools and strategies. I believe that is a mistake, as the consumers' buying logic and process are totally different (as are the margins). Take for example the way we would search for, compare, and buy a particular book online; but you will never buy that same book again. FMCG products, on the other hand, are all about re-purchase and lifetime association. Different categories need different solutions.

Recently AaramShop launched in Pakistan. How is the traction there?

It is too early for us to start looking at trends. However, the engagement is good and it would be fair to assume that the future will be good as well.

Your plans.

We are extending our reach, and also trying to go deeper within the cities that we already operate in. One of the services that we are presenting to our consumers is the ability to add brands that they like directly into their shopping list from every possible media touch-point. We call it EveryWhere Commerce, as against e-commerce.

We would like to ensure that brands convert their ability to reach the consumer into an ability to enable shopping.

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