Started by Bal Krishna Birla (ex-CTO of askLaila) and Mukesh Singh (ex-CTO of MakeMyTrip), Zopnow is an online grocery store that is now open for business in South Bangalore region (covers Jayanagar, JP Nagar, Bannergatta Road, Koramangala, HSR Layout, BTM Layout and Sarjapur road).
The site is neatly done with discounted pricing for all items and unlike several other online grocery initiatives, Zopnow is building its own inventory and logistics service.
I had an interaction with Birla a few days back regarding Zopnow and he mentioned a few interesting perspective – i.e. they are building a logistics company and Internet just happens to be the medium (i.e. not the typical ecommerce play). Even he has taken a non-tech role in the company and is driving backend operations (remember, he used to run a restaurant in Bannerghatta road earlier).
The Zopnow team is collecting lat/long of gated communities and in the near future, will launch a ‘live order tracker’ system that will enable customers to track their orders. Birla mentions that such transparency will also help them in ensuring that operations run smooth.
For fun sake, I showed the website to two ladies (one working, one housewife) in my apartment and the first reaction was:
Are they selling at “lowest” price? Let’s check the price of sugar!
There are some items that are a benchmark for any house-maker as far as purchase decision is concerned and I’d recommend the team to look at such benchmarking products (helps in finding a sweet spot).
Having said that, pricing is still an important factor, but that should be the last parameter for Zopnow to differentiate itself from the regular mom-and-pop stores.
- Trust/Credibility/Dependability: Typically, day-to-day groceries aren’t so much of planned activity (and that’s why mom-and-pop stores thrive). Meeting order delivery timeline will be a BIG metrics for Zopnow, especially keeping Bangalore traffic (and working couples) in mind.
- Branding: Birla mentioned some of the key initiatives/ideas that the team is working on vis-à-vis branding. Ideally, an online grocery store should bring sub-conscious branding elements like giving away sticky notes for consumers to put up an essential list of grocery items on the refrigerator door etc.
- Positioning: Lowest Price? Quality products? Timely delivery? What’s the product soul/USP? How does Zopnow wants to be known as? It’s not clear yet.
- Delivery charge: Currently, Zopnow charges Rs. 30 as delivery charge for orders below Rs. 500/ (free above Rs. 500/). I’d recommend the team to relook at this, as they will be competing with a typical pricing mentality of ‘hell! why not order from the kirana store then?’. Maybe, something like ‘Pay for first and second delivery is free?’
- Recommendation Engine: A household typically needs to reorder the same set of products every month. In fact, a good recommendation engine that brings contextual products/relevant items will help (though not a Priority 1, but should be on the roadmap). Also, store orders and make them reorderable – that saves a lot of time for people.
- Market Research: Should be scheduled for 10th release of the product. But if the team cracks a mass number, they should be able to throw interesting market reports. Apart from building authority, it will also help them in building close partnership with FMCG brand managers who are hungry for such market insights.
As far as feedback is concerned:
- Some of the products do not have a thumbnail yet (e.g. face care category). The team should revert to a Zopnow default thumbnail in such cases. Helps in branding, in a subtle manner.
- Overall, some of the products do not have a respectable discount (50 paise/Rs 1 discount means nothing). The team should look at such cases. It adds no value (rather erodes site’s perception).
- Homepage design: Not the best one out there in the market, but there is a HUGE scope for improving the homepage design of the site (it has a web1.0 feel, though there is nothing wrong with that).
- The ‘smart search’ feature is neatly done, but why is it not part of the main product? I mean, there can’t be ‘dumb search’ and ‘smart search’ features!
- Only CoD (Cash on Delivery)? That’s the first for any ecommerce company. But, enabling payment gateways help (in the age of plastic money, CoD has its own challenges).
Overall, Zopnow is a very interesting play and the team is focused on getting it right – they have hired the right set of people (especially for managing inventory) and we certainly hope that they do not get into the regular echo-chamber of ecommerce business.
If you are from South Bangalore, do give Zopnow a spin and share your review.