Bring Your Local Sabziwala To Your Doorstep With Akshay Jain’s eBaajaar
- IWB Post
- December 5, 2017
Picture this. It is a beautiful Sunday morning. You’re enjoying the last day of your weekend. You’re up relatively early and you decide, today you’re going to cook yourself a healthy and fresh breakfast. You head towards the refrigerator dreaming up concoctions of all sorts of fruit salads and delicious vegetables on toast. But as you open the fridge all your dreams take a nosedive. There’s nothing in it! The freshest thing you have in there is the jar of Mayonnaise that expired 3 months ago. Now, what do you do?
If you’re anything like me you go online to buy some groceries, because who wants to go out on the one free day of the week? There you face your next challenge. The fruits and vegetables will arrive at your doorsteps but only on Monday. Well, I guess you could eat cereal one more day.
Or, if you live in Mumbai, you could order vegetables from this startup that eliminates middlemen by connecting you directly to your nearest Sabziwala. eBaajaar wants to bring about a revolution in online produce shopping. Instead of supporting a retail giant, you could support your local vegetable vendor while getting fresh fruits and vegetables. All this with a simple few taps on your smartphone. The cherry on this metaphorical cake is that they deliver within two hours. And considering it’s your local vendor delivering, returns are extremely easy!
Over a phone conversation with the man himself, we learn about how eBaajaar wants to help both the customers and the vendors. They provide micro-financing and other social services to vendors to make their lives easier. With the increase in the number of startups that source from warehouses outside cities, the brunt is born by our local produce vendors. Akshay Jain tells us the noble intentions behind this idea.
when did you get the idea of starting eBaajaar? What influenced you?
Akshay: I studied in the United Kingdom and would come back to India for vacations. I began to notice the problems that the country faces and one amongst them were shopping and sourcing of fresh produce. This is when I met my uncle Mr. Tripathi, who told me how difficult it was to buy fresh fruits and vegetables. This is because our supermarkets source cold storage vegetables that just aren’t fresh. They are not procured on a daily basis and they are tearing down small businesses. Local markets are suffering greatly under this model.
This is where we got the idea of providing a platform to the small vegetable vendors to compete with not just the supermarkets but also the online retailers. Vendors can register on our platform and deliver in their neighborhoods. This gives them the opportunity to expand and grow their business.
What were the difficulties you faced when you decided to start eBaajaar?
Akshay: In the beginning, the vendors were quite inhibited in working with us. They thought we were another large online company out to get hold of their business. We had to work very hard to erase these fears from the minds of the vendors. Then there was the problem of the technology. For most of these vendors, the internet means browsing on Facebook or watching Youtube. They weren’t utilizing this incredible tool they had on hand. So when we decided to make an app for the vendors we wanted to make it as intuitive and user-friendly as possible. We worked on many iterations of the app. And finally, we were able to crack the code.
How does eBaajaar plan to compete in the age of Amazon and Grofers?
Akshay: To be honest, we don’t think we’re competing with Amazon because they simply source from BigBaazar. Which means their reachability is limited to areas which have a BigBaazar. Even today we certainly have more of a presence than Amazon and perhaps even more than D-Mart.
We do compete with Grofers and BigBasket, but the competitive advantage we have is our speed. While our competitors take about 2 days to deliver, and simply do not offer instant delivery until you pay up more. We offer a 2-hour delivery service. When you order on eBaajaar, your order goes straightaway to your nearest vendor.
Besides, we also have a certain flexibility that they do not. We have no minimum order requirement. Which makes eBaajaar ideal for small families. Plus, we’re able to provide a more personalized experience. Considering the fact that it is your local vendor rendering you services, exchanges and returns are as easy as ever.
Who is the primary target market for eBaajaar?
Akshay: Primarily we’re targeting working women and corporate professionals. Basically, people who don’t really have the time to waste on buying groceries at supermarkets. This is really convenient for them. This is for the people who don’t have the time to go to the market every day yet want fresh produce.
How is eBaajaar attempting to make the life of vendors easier and better?
Akshay: We’re aiming to return the market to the small vendors. We want to help them get better prices for their produce. We do this by giving them collective negotiating power. Because when it comes to cost, they are always beaten by big supermarkets that buy in bulk. So instead of individual vendors going and buying the produce, we buy on their behalf in bulk. We’re also trying to propagate this model of Farm to Retail, eliminating all middlemen.
Along with this, we’re providing vendors with financial services to help them expand and grow their businesses. We’re training them on customer service and how to retain existing customers while growing your base.
What are your plans for the future with eBaajaar?
Akshay: City-wise, we plan on expanding to Delhi, Bangalore, and Pune next. But in Mumbai, we also have many grand plans. We want to bring fresher produce so we’re working to get farmers to sell directly to us. Currently, there are 4-5 middlemen and with each middleman, the price goes up to the end customer. We want to eliminate this entirely.
We’re also focusing our energies on making life better for vendors by providing them microfinance and brand building tools. We also intend to create common shopping areas where vendors can set up shop and sell produce. We have a lot of plans for the future.
The idea that you can enjoy unbound comfort while supporting your local produce vendor sounds too good to be true. But with this incredible app, it is now a reality. Sadly, the app is currently only available on Android, but you can download the latest version here.
And even though you missed cooking Sunday breakfast, you could probably get fresh vegetables delivered to your doorstep in time for lunch. Bon Appetite!