A web portal makes provision shopping convenient. With a click of the mouse find an entire supermarket online
Shopping for rava (semolina), puttu podi, vegetables, fruits, chicken or fish, brooms…even flowers and crockery without leaving the comfort of your home, with just a click of the mouse. No mandatory hunt for the non-existent parking space, no standing in serpentine queues in under-staffed supermarkets and no lugging heavy carry bags…how does the prospect of provision-shopping like that sound? Highly unlikely? Not really. TenderMango.com, an online shopping mall, might be what you are looking for.
Online shopping, after all, does not have to be about books, clothes and DVDs.
Balu Varghese, one of the co-founders of the e-store, says that the above mentioned were some of the reasons that led him and his friend Dr. Santhosh Kumaran, a US-based doctor, to start the portal a year back, in 2012. Balu quit his job with IBS Software Services, Kochi, to start the portal. The website aims at making shopping easier and it is different from ordering provisions over the phone from supermarkets.
“The online orders have to be in by 10.30 a.m. daily. We have to procure the stuff. For instance, if there are orders for perishables such as fish or meat or vegetables, we have to procure them fresh and dispatch the orders before 1 p.m.,” Balu explains the process. There is neither any additional charge for delivery nor is there a minimum order stipulation. “Even if it is a single order we will deliver, if possible. And we are open to suggestions about products too,” he emphasises. But if an order comes in after the cut off time, it will have to be over the phone and an additional amount will be charged for the delivery. If there is any problem with the product delivered, it can be returned.
“We have had frantic calls asking for us to deliver a packet of salt at 1.30 p.m. Which must have been when lunch was being cooked,” says Jayan C. K., operations manager. The perishables are procured from stores with which they have a tie-up and the non-perishables and quick moving items (detergents, stationery, snacks) are stored at their warehouse in Vennala.
At 12 noon the warehouse is a buzz of activity. Provisions neatly loaded in plastic crates arranged in neat rows and divided area-wise await delivery. “We use crates so that things don’t get mixed up and messed up too,” Jayan points out. An icebox is kept ready for fish and meat to arrive and then be transported. Four vehicles, a motorbike included, with spiffy animated mango logos on them, will set off to make deliveries.
The choice of mango is intriguing. “There is no specific reason except that it is easy to remember,” Balu says. There is a dash of the eco-friendly too, with cloth bags being used to make deliveries.
The portal comes as a boon to not just to time-strapped professionals but also senior citizens. “When I was working elsewhere and my parents were alone back home, I used to worry about how they would go about doing their shopping. An option like this makes things a lot easier for senior citizens,” says Balu.
Since it is online, NRI or non-resident children can do the shopping for their parents. “They just need to log in and help their parents in their ‘shopping’ from wherever they are. The bills can be verified and make payments online too,” Jayan says. But not all senior citizens would be net-savvy. “We take orders over the phone too. But that limits choice. We do ask if they want specific brands and process the order accordingly,” he clarifies.
For the time being there are no garments, however there is a section for pets, a tie-up with a florist and a crockery store in the city. Soon a sports goods shop too will come aboard. There are plans to have tie-ups with a baby shop, a bookstore, computer accessories and even a pastry shop, Balu adds.
It sounds too good to be true. And one can’t help wondering if there is a catch hidden somewhere in the fine print. “No, there is no catch. It is on a profit-sharing basis with the stores. The customer doesn’t pay anything more than what they would pay at a supermarket. It works for the store too because they are selling as well,” says Balu, explaining the economics of it.
To borrow from the company’s tagline …anything, anytime, anywhere…just order and it just might be delivered to you!