Self Servicehttps://indianexpress.com/article/news-archive/web/self-service/

Self Service

As retail moves from physical stores to online servers,how can grocery shopping be far behind?

As retail moves from physical stores to online servers,how can grocery shopping be far behind?

Flying Fish

Burdened with a south Indian predilection for seafood,Shruti Menon’s stay in land-locked Delhi was characterised by a distinct paucity of the fresh seafood she was used to in Kochi. Luckily,for Menon,a human resources consultant living in Delhi for four years,fortune favours the hungry. Seatohome,a Kochi-based firm,has recently started supplying fresh fish and other marine nibbles to Menon. It started operations in June 2012 and is the brainchild of Matthew Joseph,who has been supplying seafood to Singapore and the Middle East for 22 years.

The company supplies seafood to Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi and Delhi,with plans to expand operations to Bangalore,Chennai and Jaipur. The firm has a minimum order amount of Rs 1,000 if you’re ordering from Delhi,and Rs 500 if you’re ordering within Kerala. It takes between 24 and 36 hours to deliver the fish. seatohome.com caters almost entirely to private orders by families or individuals like Menon because the price of the products fluctuates almost daily,depending on the amount and variety of the catch.

“Restaurants prefer to have monthly,bi-annual or annual contracts,with a regular supply at a regular rate,which is something we can’t promise because our fish is sourced directly from the docks and is largely dependent on the fisherman’s luck. This is why we update seatohome.com daily with the different prices and quantities available on that day,” explains Nelson. The company makes roughly 500 deliveries a month of seafood packages weighing between 3-5 kg per delivery.

Full of Beans

Despite the proliferation of coffee conglomerates,and commercials with catchy jingles,quality-but-affordable coffee beans are hard to find. That’s because,despite being one of the top producers of coffee in the world,India exports most of its quality beans. Matt Chithiranjan and Namrata Asthana decided to buck the trend and started Blue Tokai Coffee out of their Gurgaon home in January 2013 after moving back from the United States.

“When we moved back to India two years ago,we were in the south,where there is quite a significant coffee culture. You can actually go to kiosks,check out the different beans available and get them roasted to your specifications. So it’s a really interactive and open process,” says Asthana. When the couple moved to Delhi last year,they were dismayed at the lack of options at their local grocery store. Given a choice between buying freeze-dried instant coffee or expensive,imported pre-roasted beans,they decided to come up with their own alternative. “In September 2012,we spent a couple of months in Chikmagalur and Coorg and went to various coffee farms,looking for high-quality unroasted coffee beans.” she says. Afterwards,it was a question of setting up a regular supply of coffee beans to their Gurgaon home from where the couple custom-roast and dispatch them to different corners of the country. Their customers can choose from three single-estate,export quality varieties that are then roasted according to their specifications.

“We prefer supplying smaller quantities because freshly roasted coffee beans generally lose their flavour within two weeks,so 250gm packs which cost between Rs. 270-300 (excluding shipping) are our most popular offering. We’ve set up a regular order chain with several of our consumers,dispatching them a fresh batch every fortnight,” says Chithiranjan,adding that currently they send out an average of 30 kilos of coffee a week.

Their sales aren’t confined to metros and an expat clientele,which is what the couple had initially expected. “It’s really encouraging,because we’ve had people calling in from smaller cities like Bikaner,Palampur and Lucknow,as well as the metros,” says Asthana “And we get a lot of calls from people who are curious about the different ways they can grind the beans and drink the coffee.”

Grocery surfing

These websites allow you to grocery shop on your computer screen. Log on,add the items to your shopping cart,pick your preferred mode of payment and voila,your groceries will be delivered within two days.

Advertising

Websites range from the neighbourhood-kirana-store variety to up-scale gourmet versions,and their names range from the homely to the haute. These include mygrahak.co.in,bigbasket.com and oyechotu.com,that supply groceries in India and abroad.