Increased penetration of the internet and smartphones, and large-scale adoption of 4G have smoothed the way for Indians with hectic lifestyles to embrace online grocery shopping. The trend can be observed especially in tier II and III cities across the country. As of September 2020, the online food and grocery retail accounted for ~0.3% of the overall retail market.
The online grocery market in India was valued at INR 135.62 Bn in 2019 and is expected to reach INR 1,227.52 Bn by 2025, expanding at a CAGR of ~41.80% during the forecast period (2020-2025). Venture capitalists such as SoftBank Vision Fund, Tiger Global, and Sequoia Capital are investing in online grocery companies, mainly owing to the possibility of high returns. The initial days of the coronavirus-led lockdown were difficult for the online grocery market in India. Several e-commerce platforms entered the e-grocery space to cater for the increased demand during the lockdown. Moreover, to deal with the challenges, consumer majors and retailers formed unusual alliances with online aggregators, creating business opportunities amid the crisis. The online grocery market gained much popularity, owing to the social distancing norms and fear of virus transmission.
Impact of COVID-19:
The online grocery market in India is one of the few sectors that has benefited from the pandemic. With the imposition of the nationwide lockdown, consumers had begun panic-buying and stockpiling; as a result, online grocery shopping surged. The soaring grocery delivery demand and supply chain and logistics challenges during the initial days of the lockdown had caused substantial disruptions in the e-grocery market. However, key players stabilized their operations with the declaration of the services of e-commerce retailers as essential in April 2020. Grocery and on-demand delivery companies, such as Grofers, Big Basket, Milkbasket, Ninjacart, SuprDaily, and Dunzo, witnessed a significant increase in demand. BigBasket reported fulfilling 283,000 orders per day, a steep rise of ~89%, in comparison to 150,000 orders per day before the pandemic. Owing to social distancing norms and hygiene regulations, most consumers avoided getting groceries and daily essentials from brick-and-mortar retail stores.
Key growth drivers of the market:
• Owing to improved digital literacy and increased use of smartphones, people have become aware of various e-commerce services such as online shopping. Purchasing groceries online has become prevalent because it is convenient, and goods are delivered at the doorstep without any hassle.
• Online grocery companies have introduced features such as product suggestions based on prior searches and purchases, allowing placing orders from different vendor partners, and live order tracking. Marketing strategies such as cashback offers, discounts, and free deliveries on orders exceeding specific price amounts have been employed by the key players. Therefore, innovations and strategies undertaken to increase the customer base, are propelling the growth of the market.
Key deterrents to the growth of the market:
• There are abundant local grocery stores, kiranas, hypermarkets, and supermarkets across the country that allow people to see, touch, and feel the products before buying. Local grocery stores offer facilities such as free delivery to customers and weekly or monthly credit facilities to regular customers, which is why these stores still thrive at every corner of the country. Therefore, the abundance of local grocery shops and the benefits associated with them impedes the growth of the online grocery market.
• Online grocery companies are required to possess well-equipped warehouses to maintain their stock of perishable goods such as fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, seafood, eggs, and dairy products. They also require proper packaging facilities, carriage, and well-trained delivery personnel for proper functioning of the process. These factors increase operational costs of online grocery companies and reduce the profit margin, hindering the growth of the market.
• Spencer’s Retail Limited
• Amazon India Limited
• Avenue E-commerce Limited (Dmart)
• Dunzo Digital Private Limited
• Grofers India Private Limited
• Max Hypermarket India Private Limited (Spar)
• Natures Basket Limited
• Paytm E-commerce Private Limited (Paytm Mall)
• Reliance Retail Limited
• Satvacart Innovative Concepts Private Limited
• Supermarket Grocery Supplies Private Limited (BigBasket)
• UrDoorStep E-retail Private Limited