E-Commerce is now the rage! Everything is available online. The list is huge – electronics, mobiles, PCs, Laptops, Cars, Houses and now Groceries! Yes you heard that right! E-Grocers are here to make buying groceries easier for the hectic lives that we all lead today. No one really has the time or patience to go out and endure the stress and mess of shopping for groceries. Online marketplaces are quite the rage and ZopNow is a sector leader in that space. We caught up with ZopNow and their founder – Mr. Mukesh Singh. We learnt a lot about this business and ZopNow. Here is what we got for you from interacting with ZopNow
ZopNow.com is one of the fastest growing e-grocer companies in the country today. With its current operations in Bangalore, Hyderabad and Navi Mumbai, the company helps customers in their grocery purchases via their website, or mobile applications. A marked USP of the company is their ability to deliver within 3-hours and more importantly free of cost, irrespective of the order size. The company launched its operations in the month of August, 2012 and focuses on providing a seamless and satisfying purchase experience while sustaining its central promise of convenience.
Its item range caters to home and personal needs, staples, beverages, spices, edibles, cleaning utilities, baby products and so on. A strong technology based company, ZopNow works on a hybrid model of commerce, leveraging the best of offline and online commerce. Having integrated itself with the HyperCity chain of stores, the combined service offerings emphasize a large inventory range, a customer-centric approach, and a superior use of technology, based on their combined understanding of retail operations and technology.
ZopNow envisages becoming India’s largest and most convenient online grocery store. It also aspires to become a serious technology player in the e-commerce space, helping brands develop their online business in an easy and intuitive manner. The company aims to expand its orbit to various other Indian cities through strategic integration with offline supermarket chains in an effort to make 3 hour delivery a truism across all cities.
ZopNow boasts of an efficient in-house customer support team who are committed to resolving all queries from its patrons. Besides this, it also imbibes an eco-friendly approach in operations by managing dispatches in cloth bags and also by reducing the traffic footprint of customers by delivering multiple orders in a single trip. It also induces a fun element in its operations with frequent surprise gifts to its customers, in addition to hosting innovative contests on its website. Customers can also track their orders real time with the help of the ZopNow app, in addition to regular update on SMS or email on important developments in the order life-cycle.
ZopNow features also include a cash back offer wherein customers can earn money/ rewards based on their order size on every purchase made.Its customer-friendly features also include a 15 day, no-questions asked return policy for all packaged products.
Mukesh Singh, Founder and CEO of ZopNow.com constantly endeavors to integrate innovation in the company’s operations, while delivering compelling service standards to all its customers. With his vast experience from across a variety of start-up companies, he has developed strong credentials in managing and executing technological solutions across multiple domains. He has previously played key roles in various companies in developing their businesses from the ground-up.
Mukesh Singh graduated in Computer Science & Engineering and has a minor in Mathematics from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur. After completing his graduation, he enrolled in a PhD program at MIT, but later dropped out of to join an animation startup, Zoesis, based out of Boston.
In his journey, he went on to join eGain as an early employee, where he worked on solving technical problems for the internet space and helped setup the company’s India engineering center at Pune. Post this; he joined Sum Total Systems in the eLearning domain, where he was instrumental in building the company’s India development center at Hyderabad. Mukesh also spent five years in the search and payments domain at Amazon India and helped setup the firm’s Hyderabad and Chennai development centers.Prior to starting ZopNow, Mukesh led the engineering team at MakeMyTrip.com.
At ZopNow.com, Mukesh envisions enhancing the brand’s visibility in the market place while providing a delightful online grocery shopping experience to its customers. His vision is to build ZopNow into India’s largest and most convenient online grocery store.
Mukesh is an avid long distance runner. He has attained the milestone of completing 12 marathons in 12 months including one in Ladakh.
We caught up with him and had a chat. Here are the excerpts of our interaction with him.
Another e-commerce company? How are you different? Tell us your journey till here
ZopNow was started in the year 2011 and at that time e-commerce wasn’t as big a sector as it is now. Today it is one of the fastest growing spaces, and it has spread in breadth across multiple sectors. IN 2011, e-grocery was almost an unheard of segment; today, 4 years on, it is one of the fastest growing technology business spaces in India. We are seeing the biggies like Amazon stepping into the business of e-grocery.
ZopNow has stuck to its vision of making grocery buying a very convenient experience for consumers, even when everyone was pointing to Webvan’s crash-and-burn as a reason why e-grocery would never make it, to today, when there is a lot of exuberance around e-grocery. That says something about our conviction in the business, and in our ability to provide a super-delightful experience for consumers.
We started our operations from Bangalore, and today it is present in 5 cities. We plan to be present in 10-12 cities in India by the end of this year. A marked USP of ZopNow is it’s ability to deliver within 3-hours and more importantly free of cost, irrespective of the order size.
How do you plan to make your identity known in a crowded market?
We believe that the only way to create identity in any market, crowded or not, is to provide a great experience to customers. Basically, deliver on the promise that we have made to our customers – great products at the right prices in the chosen slot of delivery. If we can do this consistently, identity will happen.
We work very hard on leveraging technology to ensure that we keep our promise to customers – technology is the cornerstone of our current efforts to build a brand identity for ZopNow.
Why should a buyer come to you and not go to other spaces?
The Indian consumer is very cognizant of brands and variety today. And the same holds true for grocery. Imported brands are common in grocery today, choosing from 50 kinds of chips and wafers is common today. As a buying class, we want everything.
At ZopNow, customers get the benefit of a great range of products combined with super-quick delivery, within 3 hours. This is a significant upgrade on the current consumer experience where they often make an implicit choice between range and speed of delivery. Where there is range, quick delivery is not an option; where there is speed of delivery, range is not available.
ZopNow marries these two important aspects of any buying experience. Combining this with the convenience of online shopping, ZopNow is well-poised to be the destination of choice for grocery shoppers.
Offline and online is an intriguing combination, tell us how this works?
ZopNow works on a hybrid model of commerce, leveraging the best of offline and online commerce, to create a true omni-channel experience for customers. Customers care primarily about the experience and the convenience. This hybrid model of commerce helps us do this well. We work with the HyperCity chain of stores, which has a great background in sourcing, quality and mix of products. Combined with ZopNow’s strengths of technology, understanding of the digital consumer, the model brings together the best of both worlds.
What are the buyer segments that are important to you?
Being an e-grocery company, it is mandatory for us to reach out to a large and inclusive audience. Everyone needs and buys groceries. As such we do not target any particular buyer segment but we see a lot of traction coming from a wide spectrum of consumer segments – working professionals, bachelors, married couples with and without kids, and housewives.
What are your future plans?
ZopNow had recently raised $10 million (Rs 62 crore) in a fresh round of funding led by San Francisco-based Dragoneer Investment Group. The money will be used to expand to 10-12 cities by the end of this year, hire and grow the teams, and enhance the technology.The idea is to service many more customers, while steadily growing presence across geographies, and enhancing the customer’s experience on ZopNow.
Are you also aspiring to be valued in billions?
We are aspiring to be a valuable service for our customers. If we can do that, we would have achieved our most important goal.
Is the online shopping bubble close to bursting as many are now predicting?
I think there are two different questions here – online shopping as a habit for consumers, and the valuations for online commerce businesses.
As far as the consumer is concerned, online shopping is here to stay. More and more Indians are going to buy more and more things online, a habit which is being fueled mainly by the proliferation of smartphones, and reasonably priced data connectivity. On the question of valuations, let’s wait and watch. There is no gain saying the fact that in terms of sheer numbers, India is one of the two largest consumer markets in the world, and hence a highly valuable market. But the thing to watch for is the ability of a business to run on its steam sometime in the near future, or are we just riding a crazy tiger!!
What are your thoughts on the discount based and free delivery based models that have come to define e-commerce now?
I think it is about easing the barrier of entry for consumers so that they can start shopping online. In some ways, this is a subtle change of habit for consumers, and during the formative phases of the new habit it is important to make it super easy for consumers, till it becomes a part of muscle memory.
We look at all these models as a part of the habit forming process; after all India is in a very early stage of evolution vis-a-vis e-commerce.
Lastly, what would you tell a buyer about ZopNow that is going to make him/her trust and be loyal to you?
The prime focus for ZopNow is to generate maximum customer satisfaction through it’s service. Ease of ordering, technologically superior packaging and storage mechanisms, transparency of process and policy to build trust, and timely delivery – these are the points ZopNow focuses on to build trust and loyalty in consumers.
With that, it was time to say Bye to Mukesh and ZopNow! We will be watching this exciting startup very closely! They have good plans and a grounded leader! All the very best to them