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Consumers rally behind discounts, offers and instant delivery

Indians are adopting quick commerce into their daily lives; however, they are price and quality conscious with discounts and delivery time being the deciding factors.

Driven by technology, pandemic-induced restrictions and the ever increasing ask for convenience,    consumer behaviour has undergone significant changes in the last few years and yet, price  consciousness remains a key factor in decision making. According to Grant Thornton Bharat’s survey  on quick commerce (Q-com), 81% of the respondents highlighted discounts and offers as one of the  main reasons to buy products through this service. Over 1,500 respondents participated in the  survey conducted across digital platforms.

“The above data is interesting to note since it shows dependence on impulse buying, hinting that consumers are still evolving. This behavior is one of the top challenges that existing Q-com players need to resolve for long term sustainability. On the positive side, the Indian Q-com market has attracted a total of USD 4283.52 million since the start of FY21, representing increased Private Equity (PE) confidence in the sector,” says Naveen Malpani, Partner and consumer sector leader, Grant Thornton Bharat.

Since most of the orders were impulse buys or top-ups, like snacks and vegetables and fruits, 40% of  respondents quoted non-adherence to the committed delivery time as their biggest pain point while  another 33% were irked by the quality/ freshness of products. 70% of the respondents also noticed a  fall in dependence on traditional retailers.

Detailed interviews with some kirana owners highlighted noteworthy insights into the workings of  these stores. Many stores witnessed a 7-10% increase in revenue by offering their own model of a Q-com service. 30% of these retailers hired more staff for deliveries, while some used their existing  staff to run such errands. Most of the stores had adopted the latest payment methods, such as UPI, Whatsapp business, etc.

“With the changing customer mindset on convenience, there is enough space for local stores and Q-com companies to co-exist. Traditional retailers can transform their offerings through technology and better resource optimisation. The success of the Q-com players will depend upon how efficiently they can manage their entire delivery infrastructure efficiently in a cost-effective manner using technology and AI,” added Malpani.

According to the report, appended are some key Q-com trends to look out for:

  • Focused micro market play: Push for expansion within the metro and top cities for consumers who are willing to trade time for a higher price.
  • Dynamic delivery lead times: There is a minimum set-up cost for every dark store, so to sustain the cost, players are likely to settle for 30–40-minute delivery time in future or more for certain orders.
  • Improved unit economics: The current ticket sizes and margin profile results in delivery cost itself eating into 40% of the gross margins for market players. Hence, they will need to work on product assortments, private brands, increase frequency through targeted offers.
  • Micro collaborations and alternate revenue streams: The Indian regulations on MRP and the current margin structure are the main impediments. One could see more collaborative experiments between Q-com and traditional players to figure out a win-win model. Companies will have to look at additional products with a better margin to improve their economics.
  • Delivery charges to kick in: To sustain the business models, Q-com companies might have to charge some delivery fee if the ticket size is below a particular threshold
  • ESG considerations: From contributing to pollution, CO2 emissions to rigorous use of plastic and paper bags for packaging and delivery, it becomes imperative for Q-com players to focus on their ESG and sustainability quotient.

With increased scope of Private Equity (PE) investment and consolidation in the space, this business model has caught the interest of a lot of start-ups and established brands. The survival of the fittest will depend on those companies that would create additional revenue streams, manage inventory overload, all while adhering to or slightly altering delivery timelines.