Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Thriving on tech to elevate customer experience

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Amartya Smaran

Recently, the city of pearls witnessed the launch of ‘Big Basket Supermart’ which happens to be Big Basket’s first ever offline walk-in retail store.

With a goal to expand the number of offline retail stores in tier-one cities, the third-largest grocery retailer in the Indian market is aiming at a growth rate of 30% in FY 22-23. In the next three months, the company is planning to open fifteen stores in Bengaluru, five in Kolkata, and three in Hyderabad.

In conversation with The Pioneer, the founder of BigBasket, VS Sudhakar discussed the prospects of Big Basket, their ground-breaking supply chain model, and let us in on the brand new ‘BB now’ mechanism.

Eighty-five percent of what Big Basket sells comes from farmers, and that is what makes the company so special when compared to its competitors in the market, says the founder VS Sudhakar, and continues, “We have close to almost 100 collection centers across the country. What you see in the store today has come from farmers from all over the country. We also tell you who’s the farmer who supplied that day’s supply. The customer actually knows who’s the partner that supplied. One of the key goals is to build a strong supply chain, both for fruits and vegetables. For the first time, we are doing loose staples where we directly source from farmers for grains as well and that is also being stocked. In fact, what we do is we have a large processing centre in Vijayawada where the staples undergo cleaning, processing, and packing. The farmers financially gain about 7-8% more by supplying directly to Big Basket.”

In one of his talks, VS Sudhakar said that the company would always be viewed as a retailer from the perspective of customers. However, with the introduction of tech-savvy stores, we wondered if that’d be the case. To which, he replied, “If you look at it from a customer’s perspective, they don’t care whether it is online or offline. All they want is the best products at the best price. They want convenience and that’s what online stores offer. We have a strong technology platform and we have always been a technology-driven company. Any online company is always built around technology and BigBasket started as an online company. We also have created an equal amount of focus on the supply chain. For instance, working with farmers and building processing centers enables us to build a good network. Therefore, we have a good mix of technology, supply chain, and customer experience.”

The founder is high on experimenting in the market space and it looks like he’s got big plans for the company and its loyal customer base. He says, “We’re looking forward to coming up with new technology in the physical retail space itself. What we are looking forward to implementing would be completely new to the market. I’d be happy to talk about it once we finalise those details. In terms of customers, we continue to have only two big goals. One is to have a fantastic product range with great quality and the second, offer goods at competitive prices. In fact, one of the key focus ideas for this store is, we want all sections of society to come and buy good quality products at a competitive price from our stores. If you notice all the pricing is very competitive and the entire supply chain strength that we’ve built will be used to deliver a good price and range.”

We live in a world where we look for quick solutions. The idea of being process-oriented is quite rare. The entrepreneur has always laid emphasis on being process-oriented to sustain in the long run. Elaborating further on the dichotomy between being process driven and looking for quick solutions, the businessman commented, “In fact, when this whole quick commerce thing happened, people wanted everything in 10 to 20 minutes. Initially, we were wondering if grocery was really needed in 15 to 20 minutes. The whole younger generation is changing. One of the things we have done is we have created this new technology and a channel which is BB now which delivers products within 15 to 30 minutes. The way we build it again is we have come up with some good technology solutions.”

After addressing the key talking points of the business, VS Sudhakar ended the interview by explaining the BB now mechanism which enables the quick delivery of products, “We have something called a smart bin. A smart bin is where once the order gets picked, it’s put into a smart bin and the person who’s going to deliver can come, scan the QR code, and pick items for delivery. It automatically identifies the delivery person who has picked it up, and which order has been allocated to which delivery person. From the time the customer places an order to the time the delivery person collects the order from the smart bin is about three minutes. We’ve brought in a lot of technology to make sure this can happen in that time frame.”

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