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.