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In recent years, India has seen a surge of grocery delivery startups such as BigBasket, Grofers and Flipkart that boast quick and convenient customer service. These companies have become immensely popular in urban areas as a convenient way to purchase necessary items. However, for all the convenience these startups provide, there are several risks associated with them on both the startup’s and the customer’s sides.

From a startup’s point-of-view, there is an inherent risk of being unable to manage customer expectations effectively. With each order comes potential conflicts over delivery times and quality consistency issues. In addition, startups need to be aware of issues like inflated pricing due to competition between delivery companies and food safety concerns since some items require proper storage or handling of perishable goods. Social media also presents its own set of risks since any negative feedback could hurt the startup’s reputation and damage its brand image.

For customers, there are evident risks associated with using grocery delivery startups such as privacy concerns over maintaining their personal information online, potential theft during deliveries or even potential losses due to delays in deliveries which may result in spoiled goods if they are perishable products. In addition, delayed payments can cause issues if payment methods vary from store to store and costs incurred from additional fees like delivery fees can also be a concern for customers if they find themselves paying more than expected for their orders.

Stanford dropouts’ firm bags $60m to speed up grocery delivery in India

Grocery delivery startups in India have seen a surge in popularity in recent years, primarily due to the emergence of convenience-focused startups. These startups are backed by several venture capital firms and are aiming to revolutionize the way consumers access their groceries.

In this article, we will look at the rise of grocery delivery startups in India, the risks associated with these startups, and how they are combating those risks.

Overview of the Stanford dropouts’ firm

The Stanford dropouts’ firm, Grofers, is among the leading companies in the Indian grocery delivery industry. The company was launched in 2013 by Albinder Dhindsa and Saurabh Kumar with a vision to create a hassle-free way of buying groceries. This solution allowed customers to purchase groceries online and deliver them at their doorstep within 90 minutes.

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Grofers focused on local availability and servicing previously unexplored tier-2 cities. Apart from offering fresh deliveries, it also provides dry grocery items such as flour and sugar, food products like spices and oils, medications from local pharmacies, fruits & vegetables from near-by farmers’ markets etc. Furthermore, Grofers offers a loyalty program that allows customers to earn points for every purchase they make on the platform.

The success of Grofers enabled it to quickly expand its portfolio across India to include over 2000 cities & towns surpassing other grocery delivery startups such as Big Basket and ZopNow in terms of turnover even though profitability took a hit due to increasing customer acquisition costs. Despite the risks associated with profiting in such an industry dominated by traditional offline retailers and well funded competitors such as Amazon India & Flipkart, Grofers is slowly emerging as a strong player in the grocery delivery sector of India.

Overview of the current market

Grocery delivery in India is gaining traction as people adopt this convenient lifestyle thanks to a few companies now providing doorstep delivery of products. These startups have become popular due to their ability to provide a better shopping experience by offering convenience and reduced prices.

India is a huge market for grocery startups, valued at over USD 300 billion with groceries making up for about 60-65% of retail sales in the country. To tap into this growing market, various companies like BigBasket, Grofers, Flipkart Supermart and Amazon Pantry have emerged as major players with their delivery models and strategies. Many smaller companies are also entering the fray such as Milkbasket, Jiomart and it has been estimated that by 2020 there could be more than 50 grocery startups operating in India.

These businesses work on two models – an online marketplace where merchants can sell directly to customers; or a local hyperlocal model that facilitates same day/next day deliveries from nearby stores and warehouses. The hyperlocal model can be a double-edge sword since both the stores and warehouse owners will have to come together for successful deliveries, which presents new challenges that need addressing.

Merchants also have the challenge of stocking just enough inventory but not overcommitting themselves since it puts strain on resources barely used for sales. The biggest challenge however lies in India’s low internet penetration rate which imposes hurdles on the growth of ecommerce or anything that needs constant connectivity for its success along with restrictions like tiered pricing structures imposed by some states.

Challenges Faced by Grocery Delivery Startups

With the rapid growth of grocery delivery startups in India, the challenges they face are becoming increasingly apparent. These challenges range from regulatory issues to customer service, to customer retention and much more.

In this article, we will explore the risks associated with grocery delivery startups in India and provide insights into how they can tackle them.

Logistics Challenges

Grocery delivery startups face a unique set of challenges when compared to other types of delivery-based businesses, as they are transporting fresh produce and other items that require efficient cold storage and transportation. Grocery stores have had to adapt their supply chain models to accommodate these new delivery models, complexifying the tasks associated with grocery deliveries. In India, this is further compounded by the lack of standardization frameworks for storing or transporting foodstuffs, leading to inefficient operations and poor customer service from delivery startups.

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The logistics challenges grocery delivery startups face can be broken down into three main categories: cold storage, transportation services, and effective systems management. For example, cold storage involves arranging appropriate temperature control solutions for storing items like fruits and vegetables until they can be delivered to customers. Additionally, due to the heavy distance between consumers’ residences and suppliers’ sources of goods, transportation services need to be arranged through reliable contractors who can manage delays or canceled deliveries. Finally, digital management platforms must also be implemented to ensure high resolution inventory tracking along with reliable customer service modules that allow customers more flexibility when it comes time for them to receive their orders. Overall, each category creates an ongoing challenge that has not yet been adequately addressed by any grocery delivery startup operating in India.

Delivery Challenges

Grocery deliveries are becoming increasingly popular in India, with many startups taking advantage of the trend. However, there are several challenges that these startups need to be aware of to remain competitive. Delivery challenges are one of the key concerns for grocery delivery startups.

Timely deliveries: Time is one of the key parameters to ensure customer satisfaction, and delivery delays can hurt customer reviews, ratings and loyalty. Grocery delivery startups need to pay close attention to their distribution network, staffing numbers and fleet sizes to ensure that they match the demand level they are receiving, while also delivering orders on time.

Quality control: Ensuring that all products delivered meet customer expectations is essential for continued success in this field. Grocery items can be easily damaged during transportation or if stored improperly, resulting in unhappy customers who may take their business elsewhere. Therefore, groceries need to coordinate closely with suppliers and distributors to check the quality of goods before they reach customers’ homes.

Risk management: With any startup business venture comes risks such as stock-outs (not having enough goods) or excesses (having too many goods). Grocery delivery services must implement systems that allow them to monitor stock levels regularly for timely replenishment or removal from sale as appropriate. Additionally, a well-implemented fraud prevention process should also be set up so that orders can be tracked from start to finish with minimal incidents occurring along the way.

Cost control: Many emerging grocery firms face challenges related to cost control due to rising wages and changing logistical costs associated with delivery services. Grocery delivery services must streamline processes while maintaining quality service to not pass unnecessary costs onto customers or undermine their profitability margins.

Supply Chain Challenges

The success of a grocery delivery startup depends largely on how well its supply chain is managed. Such businesses face unique challenges because groceries are highly perishable and require special care during transit. In India, these startups have to contend with increasing competition from other delivery players, coupled with logistical difficulties such as long distance deliveries and issues related to inventory management.

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One of the major supply chain challenges faced by Grocery Delivery Startups in India is that of warehousing, packaging and time constraints. Groceries may spoil if not stored in optimal conditions or if improper packaging affects their quality. Furthermore, vendors often have little time to package and deliver orders since customers demand a speedy service. This poses great difficulty for startups as they strive to meet client expectations and maintain consistency in their products simultaneously.

Delivery services also face another challenge related to timely availability of products due to unpredictable demand at certain times in different locations across India. This type of seasonal fluctuations must be planned accordingly if such businesses hope to be successful by ensuring adequate stock levels while avoiding overstocking during lean periods. Entities looking to set up grocery delivery startups must also invest heavily in technology solutions to minimize the risk of pilferage and wastage while providing maximum transparency throughout the entire process until the product reaches its destination safely.

Risks Associated with Grocery Delivery Startups

Grocery delivery startups in India are becoming increasingly popular amongst Stanford dropouts. Moreover, these startups are well-funded, with one firm even bagging $60M in investments to speed up grocery delivery in the country.

Of course, a certain degree of risk comes with rapid growth and large investments. In this article, we’ll look into the different risks associated with grocery delivery startups in India.

Financial Risks

Financial risk is one of the main risks associated with grocery delivery startups in India. Several factors contribute to this type of risk, including volatile customer demand, unpredictable seasonality in pricing and sales, rising cost of labor and transportation, increasing competition from established players, difficulties in maintaining consistently high levels of service quality, and difficulty in meeting customer expectations when it comes to deliveries.

In the case of grocery delivery startups, the risks are even greater as there is no established customer base or market for these businesses. As such, there is an inherent risk involved with launching any new venture without an existing customer base or market for their products.

Furthermore, as grocery delivery startups depend on third-party service providers to fulfill their orders, these companies face the added threat of relying on contracts that may not be permanent and could leave them exposed if their partner’s service suddenly ceases or if they become financially insolvent. To mitigate this risk effectively, startup founders must have clear terms and conditions with all third-party partners to guarantee long-term stability. Additionally, it is important to have contingency plans in place if one’s partner fails as this could have significant negative implications for any business that heavily relies on such partners.

Regulatory Risks

Grocery delivery startups in India may face various regulatory risks that could slow their growth or result in significant financial costs.

Two key pieces of legislation may affect these startups. The first is the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006. This legislation is intended to ensure that food products offered for sale are safe and hygienic. It requires food businesses to have certain operating licenses, including personnel and storage unit licenses. Failure to comply with applicable laws can result in fines or other penalties.

The second piece of legislation is the Essential Commodities Act, 1955, which regulates the price and availability of certain essential commodities such as onions, potatoes or pulses. This law also requires grocery businesses to comply with certain rules such as ensuring that groceries purchased by customers remain at a reasonable price and are not withheld from sale due to supply chain issues like production delays or short harvests. If a grocery delivery startup fails to comply with this law, it could face significant fines or other corrective action from the government.

Understanding the applicable legal requirements for groceries sold in India can help grocery delivery startups mitigate potential regulatory risks and protect their bottom line.

Operational Risks

Operational risks are a subset of financial and/or legal risks that many grocery delivery startups in India have to face. Operational risks here refer to issues such as technology malfunctions, supply chain instability, perishability or product degradation, lack of infrastructure, health and safety issues, customer dissatisfaction with deliveries and inadequate customer service.

Technology Malfunctions – Technology errors could lead to team miscommunication, resulting in delays or incorrect orders. Such situations could affect a company’s reputation and reduce customer loyalty and revenue.

Unstable Supply Chains – A sudden shortage of ingredients or difficulties in sourcing produce from sources may cause customer delivery delays due to limited availability or impacted vendor supply chains.

Perishability or Product Degradation – This can occur when delivering fresh food items like vegetables and fruits which are sensitive to extreme temperatures leading them to go bad before reaching customers which may affect ratings negatively.

Lack of Infrastructure – Delivery startups operating in rural areas may find it difficult accessing proper roads and infrastructure after a certain point along with struggle energy access concerning related machinery such as refrigerators etc., hindering smooth operations.

Health & Safety Issues – Food safety regulations must be adhered to while delivering groceries like expiration dates on ready meals or maintaining hygiene standards while packing items which if failed can result in serious legal problems or fines for companies along with customer trust being compromised significantly.

Customer Dissatisfaction with Deliveries- Poorly constructed delivery plans or inexperienced personnel may lead to wrong orders getting shipped out resulting in customer returns which increase the chances of receiving negative reviews online impacting the brand presence immensely.

Inadequate Customer Service – High chargebacks rates due to incomplete time tracking by drivers, unclear communication leading customers jumping from one agent from another increasing waiting times and bad language used by agents causing more frustration among customers thus amplified consumer complaints ultimately having an impact on brand impressions .


In conclusion, while the grocery delivery startups in India have the potential to revolutionize the food industry, they face various obstacles and risks. Competition is intense with global conglomerates that have deep pockets entering the fray; but even established operators like BigBasket are stiffly competing to remain ahead of the game. The challenges posed by logistics and supply chain costs also dampen the progress of these startups. Delivery times and reliability both need to be improved drastically for these businesses to stand out from their competitors.

Many of these businesses are stringently focusing on improving customer experience rather than rapidly expanding their market share, which can be seen as an advantage for them to gain more foothold in Indian markets. Nevertheless, it remains to be seen if these hardships will limit or improve the prospects of grocery delivery startups in India.