Shoppers averse to crowds and long queues at billing counters at supermarkets have a host of alternative options to choose from now.
Websites which offer a range of groceries, including rice, pulses and other kitchen supplies, as well as cosmetics are slowly catching on with people who can shop from the comfort of their houses, viewing a detailed list of products. “While not every area has a well-equipped supermarket, many of my customers are also residents of large apartment complexes who do not want to venture out of them to shop for groceries,” says G. Sriram Prasad, founder and Managing Director of ‘Get Marche,’ an online portal.
A combination of convenience and competitive pricing is working in favour of these websites which are slowly gaining popularity in conservative Madurai. “I just have to place an order for the groceries from my workplace and they are delivered by the time I reach home. And it saves time,” says B. Kamala, a resident of Vilangudi.
Many of these web entrepreneurs reveal that they get a number of orders from abroad. “Many orders I get are from non-resident Indians who place monthly orders for groceries to be delivered to the houses of their elderly parents in the city,” says K. C. Rajkumar, who manages Rajkumar Online Shopping, a Madurai-based e-shopping portal, for the last five years.
Mr. Rajkumar adds that he also ships products to customers abroad. “We have Indian customers in Japan who order spices and ‘masalas,’ which are not available there,” he elaborates.
While many people still prefer to go out and shop and explore options available, the e-business entrepreneurs say it is important to offer a range of products in an easy format to browse online. “Since I source the products directly from the companies with no middlemen involved, I am also able to offer competitive prices with monthly offers,” says Mr. Sriram.
Shen’s Farm, a store exclusively selling organic products in the city, will soon begin its online operations, says its founder J. Shenbagaraj. “Since I sell niche food products and cosmetics that are exclusively organic, I’m hoping to develop a strong customer base. Despite having an outlet in the city, I have been getting numerous enquiries for delivering products. A website where customers can view a detailed list of them is an added advantage,” Mr. Shenbagaraj explains.