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Quick commerce round-up: Grofers rebrands, Flipkart invests, Swiggy doubles down, BigBasket gets on express delivery

India’s quick commerce space is burgeoning and so is the need for a different set of regulations.

quick commerce

Grofers has rebranded itself as Blinkit, Flipkart has upped its investment in Ninjacart, Swiggy has doubled down on Instamart, BigBasket once again wants to try its hand at express delivery, and Zepto has raised $60 million. Here are all the major updates in the quick commerce space.

Grofers is now Blinkit

Online grocery start-up Grofers rebranded as Blinkit on December 12 to indicate its focus on quick commerce.

We learnt a lot as Grofers, and all our learnings, our team, and our infrastructure is being repurposed to pivot to something with staggering product-market fit – quick commerce. – Blinkit cofounder Albinder Dhindsa

Earlier in August, Grofers announced that it will bring down the delivery time for the majority of its customers to under 10 minutes. This quick delivery is now available in 12 cities, the company said. The company runs over 200 dark stores and is launching a new store every 8 hours, Grofers said in a blog post in November.

Zomato, which invested $100 million in the Grofers in June this year and made it a unicorn, is now looking to invest another $500 million in the company, Economic Times reported last month. The food delivery giant is relying on Grofers to tap into grocery delivery and quick commerce and take on Swiggy’s Instamart. Welcoming the rebranding, Zomato CEO Deepinder Goyal tweeted:

Flipkart invests in agritech starup Ninjacart

Flipkart and its parent company Walmart on December 13 announced a $145 million joint investment in fresh produce supply chain company Ninjacart. This is Flipkart’s third investment in Ninjacart and comes at a time when the e-commerce platform is looking to scale its 90-minute grocery delivery service to 2000 cities and towns by the end of 2022. “Fresh fruits and vegetables will be an integral part of the expansion, with the company investing in technology capabilities to ensure the highest and most stringent quality checks for the end consumer,” Flipkart said in its announcement.

“With this investment, we are further able to strengthen our grocery footprint and offering as consumers across the country throng to e-grocery for quality and affordable options in the fresh category.” –  Kalyan Krishnamurthy, CEO, Flipkart Group

Ninjacart currently operates in seven cities, procuring fresh fruits and vegetables directly from farmers and supplying them to retailers and restaurants.

Swiggy doubling down on Instamart

Earlier in December, Economic Times reported that Swiggy has earmarked $700 million for its grocery delivery service Instamart because of increased investor interest and growing competition in the grocery delivery space. However, the company did not provide a timeline for this investment. Swiggy cofounder and chief executive Sriharsha Majety told ET:

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“It is not a dated commitment where we are going to deploy this in the next 12 months or 18 months. We think that is the size of ammunition that we need to deploy to be able to do justice to this category.”

Instamart currently clocks over one million grocery orders per week and runs 150 dark stores across 18 cities, ET said.

Earlier in August, Swiggy Instamart expanded to five more cities: Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Chennai, and Noida. Previously, the service was available only in Bengaluru and Gurugram. Furthermore, Swiggy promised 15-30 minute delivery times in these cities.

BigBasket wants in on quick delivery

Tata-owned BigBasket, which is the largest online grocery delivery service, will launch its express delivery service BBNow in mid-December, Economic Times reported late last month. BBNow will join services like Grofers and Zepto and offer 10-20 minute deliveries, the report said.

The new service is expected to be part of the main BigBasket app along with BBDaily, the company’s subscription service. “We realised it’s better to have all the offerings in one app. We will have a separate meat section as well. These are being worked out and will be launched soon,” BigBasket co-founder Hari Menon told ET.

Menon first indicated that his company will launch express deliveries in July in an interview with Economic Times.

“The focus is on setting up dark stores, bringing inventory and warehouse closer to the customer, and making sure the cold chain works better and faster and fresh produce can be delivered with ease.” – Hari Menon, BigBasket cofounder in ET interview

Zepto raises $60 million

Zepto, which currently operates a 10-minute grocery delivery service in Delhi, Chennai, Gurgaon, Bangalore, Mumbai, and Hyderabad, raised $60 million in November in its first institutional financing round, TechCrunch reported. This values the company at $225 million.

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The start-up only launched services in April this year but already has 40 dark stores and is looking to expand to 100 by early next year.

“Nobody has really perfected commerce in India, comprehensively. If you look at some of the older companies that are trying to execute on this model, a lot of them are terribly unfocused, they just don’t have the discipline of execution on operating one model. They get into multiple different things, which is sort of the biggest downfall for any large company.” – Cofounder Aadit Palicha told ET.

How is quick commerce different from e-commerce?

In a blog post, Grofers outlines some of the key differences between e-commerce and quick commerce:

  • Delivery times: 
    • E-commerce: 2-3 days
    • Quick commerce: 10 minutes to an hour
  • Supply chain:
    • E-commerce: Large warehouses usually located outside the city
    • Quick commerce: Dark stores located within the city, usually one every couple of kilometres
  • Product categories:
    • E-commerce: Pretty much everything
    • Quick commerce: Mostly products that are needed in a time-sensitive manner
  • Order tracking:
    • E-commerce: Order update every few hours
    • Quick commerce: Live tracking

Does quick commerce need a different set of regulations?

According to a report by Redseer, India’s quick commerce market is expected to grow to $5 billion by 2025. But despite the rapid growth of this market, there are no specific regulations aimed at quick commerce. This is concerning because quick commerce involves delivery times typically in the range of 10 to 20 minutes, putting the safety of delivery workers at risk.  The Consumer Protection (E-Commerce) Rules, 2020, and even the proposed amendments to these rules have been framed to regulate shopping sites like Amazon and Flipkart and they mostly address customer concerns. The growth of quick commerce hints at the need for a different set of regulations for this sector as they work differently from e-commerce platforms.

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