Decode My Grocery List

I went to bed late last night after losing my sleep over the shooting at Newtown. My day began with an online shopping experience that I thought deserved a post, to help me overcome the bitterness of our environment!

It was 7 a.m., still chilly. My groceries were delivered at my doorstep by a shiny pair of young men, neatly sorted (the items, not the men) into category wise trays, from an online order we placed a couple of days earlier, specifying this morning since we expected to run out of veggies by just about now. Accompanied by a categorized bill.


As a large number of you live in Hyderabad, you might want to try this out. They also service Mumbai and Bangalore. I ordered leafy greens and a small range of common veggies, along with some grains and staples and a few household articles, roughly enough for a week of eating. I did not have reason to order fresh livestock and dairy but which I would think would meet the quality requirements judging from my current experience. The products were all fresh, select, clean and neatly packed. The prices are comparable to local store prices and there are discounts and offers even on veggies. In many cases, their prices are lower than the lowest supermarket prices.


I like it as a productivity tool too. We have a single collecting system of a wipeboard in the kitchen on which we build our next grocer’s list. We have a time cost in terms of tasks to acquire a week’s worth of groceries. It is easier and more efficient to do it on a computer. The site lets you save your shopping list for ease of recurring orders. You can choose a delivery slot a few days into the future. The stuff and the staff are nice. Customer support is fair. You can pay online or cash on delivery.


In spite of replacing plastic carry bags with reusable plastic cartons and literally "helping" you "unbag" more efficiently at home, I felt there was still too much of plastic wrapping - but then most of it is reusable and they appear gladly willing to take it back on next delivery. The staff helped me check the items, which I think is another area we can save time on if we can develop a relationship of trust based on the track record of quality delivery systems. Since the items are categorized, and the bill too, one additional default step of doorstep audit should help build this. Of course, I might be in a minority here, but then that is me.


On a weekend morning, they had about 20 delivery to make in one of three or four available delivery slots in all of Hyderabad. I do not know about their volumes or experience in the two cities where they started earlier. My guess is that lots more in Hyderabad and in Bangalore/Mumbai would be interested if they a) come to know of it and b) can overcome the uncertainty of whether the promise of outcome can be trusted. I am an extremely finicky produce buyer (and have my own crazy ideas about how food should actually be free) and I was reasonably satisfied. I realized that my distrust of the outcome had actually prepared me for a sloppier operational execution, and again, I was reasonably and pleasantly surprised. (Am I reasonable? I doubt. :))


The key question here, I felt, is trust. In these times, being a part of a behavior process that eases the stress we put on our systems just through lack of attention and organization is in itself a great, almost healing, feeling. Imagine how it would be if could move the entire produce/livestock/dairy/grain chain online. We could have one quality controlled system of ensuring that you get A grade groceries with nicer pricing and hassle-free packaging/delivery systems than existing. Of course, do not miss the entire revolution aspect of it which has been brewing in my head about my thankfulness for food. Egg swaps and city landscaping with produce farming, you know what I mean.

I have in no way been paid or motivated to write this post other than through my experience as a customer. As yet. Which is why the link is hidden away here. But my feeling was that, like me, many of you will find this an equally helpful and satisfying experience. If you do, please share your experience in the comments, so that this becomes a starting point for a dialog to free food. If you use their services, and feel the way I feel, share this or write about them or share their links on your social networks. I put much less useful stuff out there than I should; this was something I needed to. This is what should be trending rather than the mindless violence and the violation of the sacred in every sphere of our lives. And for those of you who have already decoded my grocery list, well, if we have to trend something, let it be a revolution.

39 comments:

  1. wow! THis is amazing! Thanks Subho..I am bookmarking them for my grocery shopping!

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    1. Do let us know how your experience was, Aarathi.

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  2. Give me a high five! I am a huge fan of Bigbasket.com and have been ordering fruits, veggies and groceries from them since many months now. I have returned veggies if unhappy with freshness, and there was never any problem. The only hitch, they don't stock mushrooms that I regularly buy. And green peas had not made their appearance till last week.

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    1. Thanks, Rachna. I hope the big basket guys are tracking this discussion.

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  3. Nothing like the sight of freshly delivered goods to your home. It makes sense to order it online if you live in the heart of the city where your access to local markets or rhythu bazaar is restricted. Right now where I live we have a weekend veggie and fruit market and this happens a few blocks from my house. My father and I go and do some shopping because there is nothing like a tactile sensation of holding and examining the goods and bargaining with the trader, but I see the online shopping as the future trend. I'll drink to that.

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    1. Couldn't agree with you more. For me, letting go of the tactile experience and trusting someone else was a big leap. I am actually starting an altogether different discussion here, really, as I am sure some of you have guessed. We should actually be growing and harvesting our own food, especially vegetables, livestock. Let's see how this thought shapes up.

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    2. Growing vegetables is possible in Urban gardens/ community gardens, but livestock! I doubt. If anyone is prepared to trade fresh eggs for fresh vegetables, lots of people might jump in. You must be aware we have a forum called Intipanta in Hyderabad/AP, where in we have members who grow vegetables, as far as possible.(Active on FB too).

      But what is happening in Chennai is , this urban gardens have been proposed in Slum areas as community gardens. It is social work as well as growing food in vacant lots in areas where people can grow food and benefit.This is on a big scale abroad, and Chennai is leading the way in a small area.

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    3. Sandeep! I am under the impression that people in suburb like us, do not have access to good vegetables, except what is stacked in nearby super markets. Though we are about 3 km from Monda/wholesale market, visiting there and returning is becoming a pain, what with auto haggling and no parking zones.

      I wonder whether this store referred here will deliver in suburban areas. I need to find out. :-)

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  4. This is very interesting, I am going to let my family know about this. Thanks!

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  5. This is amazing and till the provide honest services, nothing can beat it.

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    1. Yes, Saru, maintaining quality of product and service will be key factors.

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  6. Yes. Their services are good. They sell organic vegetables too. Nice of you to advertise for them free of cost. Grocery shopping is otherwise such a pain in the ass. And Walmart is going to make it worse. I went to Walmart during my short visit. The place looked damn depressing.

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    1. I thought people who were not aware of their services (I wasn't till now) will benefit from this. And yes, the most common alternative for most urban shoppers is the nearest supermarket, which are outright depressing with their elevator music, bright lights, and vegetables at the farthest end.

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  7. I think i will try it out...a

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  8. now that is good .. you know here ther is advantage if you have ordered something , that has been accepted but while delivering if they dont have the item they give a similar product and that tooo freeee and refund the charged money :)

    I am always hoping that the scotch i order if not there he he he e

    Bikram's

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    1. Bikram, the market for such a service is yet to evolve in our cities, and as it does, I am sure the service model will also keep up. Right now, to the best of my knowledge, other than Bigbasket, there are no other services except Food Bazaar of the Future Group doing something similar but only in Mumbai. Once they succeed and try out other cities, there will be competition, and that will lead to better practices.

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  9. Hi Subhorup,

    Wow, now that's called affordable top notch service. Wish I could experience it as well. Maybe later, I guess. :)

    Keep posting :)

    Regards

    Jay
    http://road-to-sanitarium.blogspot.in/

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  10. Online grocery shopping sounds like an interesting way to shop for veggies. Very useful too especially when we are short on time to go to the market and pick the stuff ourselves. The veggies indeed look fresh and so neatly packed. Off to check the site now.

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    1. I think you will like it. Arti.

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  11. Subho this seems like a very convenient service,especially when you vouch for the quality & prices.Thanks for updating me.

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    1. Welcome, Indu. I hope they live up to my vouching for quality and price in the future too.

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  12. I am very novice in this department, all the grocery shopping is done by my mom. I guess I can finally help her out in this regard. Sounds a very convenient and viable option. Thanks, Subho ji. :)

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    1. You can actually spring a surprise on her, Akshay, by noticing what she might be needing, and then ordering it before she notices.

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  13. appears to be a nice option...but frankly speaking...i'm an amateur in this area...but who knows, one day I'll be using this option...thanks a lot... ;)

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  14. Here is something for you. Thanks for your support

    http://voiceofavillagegirl.blogspot.in/2012/12/my-favorite-bloggers-of-2012.html

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    Replies
    1. Subhorup fully deserves all the accolades in the blogging world!!! Congrats, Subho!

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    2. Roopa, I am totally flattered to be in your 10 Favorite Bloggers of 2012. Thank you so much!

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  15. Thanks for the article, Subho!!! How interesting--I would have never dared to do that. So they are not available in chennai :( In USA there was farm-to-table project that I used to subscribe. They would send me fresh seasonal veggies and fruits on monday morning that i used to split up with a friend. But I couldnt choose much--they had a package deal and the package components were pre-decided.
    But this one is so interesting...

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    1. Isn't it, Bhavana!! Madhavi and I had a fair amount of apprehension at the onset, but I tried it out, and it has so far turned out to be a good service. The produce is good, and from Rachna's comment, I see that they are open to returned products too, which is excellent.

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  16. First up many many thanks Subhorup for posting such a detailed and insightful article about us along with some fantastic pictures. It is customers like you who help us grow from a young startup to a company with 50,000 customers across 3 cities.
    For everyone else, thanks for reading, posting, taking a chance and trying us out. We promise to try our best to live up to your expectations and give you the best shopping experience possible. I have read through all your comments and will take action on them as soon as possible (adding mushrooms, etc). Please write to me directly in case of any feedback. Divya Goenka, Marketing Manager (divya@bigbasket.com)

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    1. Divya, Welcome to the mad world of SJD, I am grateful to Bigbasket for having brought you here, or else who knows how long you would have had to wait to encounter this blog. Kidding. Glad you liked the post and the pics, and you should, since they say nice things about your service. As you can see from the comments, this is an idea whose time has come, and I join my readers in wishing you all the best. Do keep coming back to this blog whenever life seems too real to bear! I promise you will find something to restore your faith.

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  17. Wow. I had no idea that online shopping for vegetables already happens in India. Grt post! :)

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  18. Wow! This post is amazing! I love the ideas so much! Thanks for sharing this awesome article!

    -YourGrocer.com

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  19. Such a excellent article. It's really helpful for us. It's a great concept to supplying grocery products, with provide better services. These products looks very clean, fresh and safety packed. The prices of the products are comparable to local stores prices with discounts and great offers on veggies. It's a great way to online shopping of grocery. It's help to save our time to go to the market and pick the stuff. Market Research

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  20. this is new to me .. thanks for this informative post .. but i guess this service is yet not available in pune ..!

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    1. I hear that Bigbasket has just got huge funding to expand. It is likely they will show up at Pune too. You might also want to check out Sahara and Godrej. I understand they are already offering online grocery services in Pune.

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  21. You live life to the fullest. Shopping at BB is fine, but that you choose to write a whole segment on online shopping - with pictures, is something special. It reflects your love for life, your respect for all. Thoroughly enjoyed reading this piece. That delivery boy must be in a daze coz someone made him a celebrity for a day. :)

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    1. Thanks, Anita! The crux of the post, though, is not BigBasket nor online shopping but the question whether we should be paying for food at all, whether our social systems has made a mistake somewhere in our economic evolution. So glad you liked the post.

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