Grofers: Running Your Errands
Our civilization thrives on its capacity to delegate lesser tasks. And what can be more commonplace than having to walk a few steps to grab a bag of groceries? While the importance of this can’t be denied, it is this very opportunity that Grofers has taken hold of.
With the sighted and opportunistic IITians Saurabh Kumar and Albinder Dhindsa handling the charge of the company and realizing how they could just make people’s lives easier and make money out of it, Grofers gained a firm foothold in many cities pan-India as the supreme online delivery company for groceries and other day-to-day items at pocket-friendly prices. They observed the situation, analyzed the problem, worked out a solution that works best for everyone, and thus Grofers was founded!
The name Grofers is a portmanteau for Grocer and Gopher; the latter being a colloquial term for an errand boy in the United States. Incidentally, it was during their time in the States that the founders struck upon an idea to improve on the merchant-customer arrangement. Many a time, it so happened that even in the presence of a bankable customer base, merchants were unable to provide higher quality and reliable service. This potential is what Grofers tapped into. Founders Saurabh Kumar and Albinder Dhindsa happened to take note of the fact that several pharmacies were already delivering 50-60 medicines per day within a 3-4 km radius. In December 2013, the founders established Onenumber which later becomes Grofers; a hyper-local logistics company that delivered within 90 minutes. Initially, operations were restricted to Delhi NCR, with their headquarters in Gurgaon.
Grofers specifically touches upon one point each from the merchant’s and the buyer’s side. Merchants often lack the infrastructure to start the demanded service of door-step delivery, which can increase their sales multi-folds while the customer simultaneously has to visit more than one shop to get what they want. Perfectly targeting the “variety” and “infrastructure” aspects of this consumer-seller relationship, Grofers successfully played the middleman that created a win-win situation for all!
Specifically, targeting the lower-income consumer bracket, for whom the tradeoff between time and money spent on daily shopping inclines towards saving money, Grofers exploited the low margin in grocery retail by focusing on volume for growth. Facing a distressing slowdown in 2016 where Grofers had to lay down several employees and shut operations in multiple cities, the company revived chiefly due to their investments in warehouses and concentrating the SKUs (stock-keeping units) for the middle-class consumers, rather than the high-end ones. Capitalizing on the inventory-led model and shifting focus to the mass market consumer, Grofers scaled up multifold despite facing stiff competition from other retailers like BigBasket and Amazon, and is working currently with more than 7000 stores with an aim for $1 billion+ yearly revenues.
Having worked at high executive positions in a number of companies, Grofers co-founder Saurabh Kumar also ventured another entrepreneurial project ‘Orange Something’, an e-commerce platform that aims to provide beauty products to customers directly from the manufacturers (a direct to consumer model) and hence reduce the prices considerably. A 2006 graduate from IIT-Bombay in civil engineering, Saurabh had worked with his fellow co-founder on a number of projects before conceptualizing Grofers back in December 2013, and is actively working to scale up the operations of the startup, especially after the latest round of funding.
The startup is known to have a technological framework constituted by a dedicated team of engineers who build and maintain robust platforms that keep those groceries just a click away for the customers. With a unique management philosophy that encourages ideas from all the members of the team, this enterprise has an entrepreneurship culture woven into its DNA.
After successfully becoming a people-loved name, Grofers went on to swipe away all recognition from the critiques when it was named one of the top 10 startups in Delhi by Yourstory in 2014 and amongst the top ten Gurgaon-based startups by Indianweb2.com in 2014. As of today, it has raised $535.5 million from investors including SoftBank, Tiger Global, Sequoia Capital, Mygreenbox, Town rush, and SpoonJoy, with $300+ million funding in 2018 alone. Flaunting a $34 million revenue in 2019 alone and a growing staff base of over 3000 employees, it has proved to be one of those companies that start off from scratch and touch heights like no others.
Grofers over the past few years has brought in a commendable e-commerce initiative in a highly competitive space, despite being written off as ‘dead’ during its 2016 slowdown. Hailed as one of the next possible unicorns in India, this would support merchants and consumers alike and usher a very revolutionary shift in the way we view shopping for groceries.