Not just clothes and accessories, you can now shop for fruits online. Priyadarshini Paitandy lists some options in the city

A pile of gleaming red cherries, bright green star fruits and cheerful peach apricots, all neatly bundled in baskets and being dispatched. Where to? To the many people who shop for fruits online, a trend that’s catching up.

The online portals first beckoned books, cds and clothes, soon grocery and vegetables followed suit and now it’s the turn of fruits to have their space in the virtual world.

T. Thiyagarajan, director, Frrutto.com, who started the website along with K. Sudarkodi and R. Suresh, says, “We have been in the import business for more than 20 years. We noticed an increase in online trading activity and tried to make the most of it by launching this online fruit delivery website…the reach is more this way. We wanted to make it convenient for our consumers.”

Frrutto currently has a consumer base of 2,600 clients and offers around 55 varieties of fruit. How difficult was it to overcome the touch-buy mindset of people when it comes to buying fruits? “While delivering we instruct the person to unwrap the basket and allow the customer to check the fruits. If there is any defect we promptly replace. We also provide specifications on our site about each fruit and plan to add sugar content and other such details,” he says.

There has been a general concern about pesticides in fruits and artificial wax coating, how does the organisation check on that? “Any edible item being imported is inspected by the plant quarantine organisation here. They have norms for every item,” he says.

Before the fruits are dispatched by Frrutto, numerous checks such as for freshness, damage and pesticides are conducted. Most of the fruits are from the U.S., New Zealand, Australia, Egypt, Chile, South Africa…About 40 per cent of the produce is acquired from local farmers. “People expect more from locally produced fruits because they compare it with the imported ones. Pre-harvest technique is important. There is a difference in quality because in India we have farmers who aren’t able to invest much. We are trying to help them by educating them about modern growing and harvesting techniques,” explains Thiyagarajan.

While Frrutto does it on a bigger scale there are quite a few websites in the city that are into online fruit retailing on a smaller scale. Amuthavalli, proprietor, Angaadi.in that was started two years ago, says, “We wanted to reach out to those who dislike shopping for fruits and vegetables in chaotic markets. As we cut down on the wastage, our prices are also lesser.” As of now they only deliver in OMR but by the end of this year they plan to extend to other parts of the city as well. “Because of the acceptance of this model we see quite a bit of competition these days,” says Amuthavalli and adds, “We don’t have a minimum order amount and have also delivered for as little as Rs.5.” Trailing the popularity, Blesson Joseph too jumped onto the bandwagon in April, with shopeasyindia.com “It’s convenient if most of our daily needs are available online. Everybody is busy, so shopping for fruits online can save time.”

Unlike Frrutto which has its storage unit in Koyambedu and Angaadi which procures its orders from there, this website has tied up with nearby shops for fruits. “We require 24 hours to deliver but most often we try to do it on the same day,” says Joseph.

Since some of these websites also list exotic fruits which aren’t usually available in the market, clients get to sample new varieties. Rambutan, durian, dragon fruit, mangosteen, soursoup (locally produced fruit) are some of the popular exotic fruits that people are trying out in addition to the usual apples, bananas and mangoes.

“And it’s not just the young working professionals who buy fruits online these websites have clients across all age groups. Sometimes people who are abroad order for their parents here,” says Amuthavalli.

Going by the trend, haggling with fruit vendors could well be a thing of the past.