After its recent pivot to 10-minute deliveries, unicorn Grofers is ready for another major overhaul with the company rebranding itself to Blinkit on Monday in a bid to capture the fast-growing and highly-competitive quick-commerce space. The brand change signals Grofers’ diversification into non-grocery deliveries under the 10-minute umbrella as it looks to take on heavyweights in the horizontal commerce segment. In an interaction, company founder and chief executive, Albinder Dhindsa, spoke about the reason for the rebranding exercise and Blinkit’s ambition to capture 100 cities in the next three months. Edited excerpts:
Why did Grofers rebrand itself as Blinkit?
We wanted to build a 10-minute delivery (model), but demand was not just for a 10-minute grocery delivery. Rather, it was for a 10-minute delivery for everything. So, with a focus on how we bring more and more products to the customers in under 10 minutes, we opted for a rebranding. This says we are not just for groceries anymore; we are essentially about instant quick commerce.
In line with your aspirations to diversify from e-grocery, what are the steps Blinkit is taking? Do we see significant GMV now being driven by non-grocery items?
Right now, we have about 250 odd-stores and we are working with different (store) partners to bring stock units which are relevant to their communities or localities. For instance, in the North, it's the wedding season and people require certain things right at the last moment. So, we have a wedding store that is live. We also sold gold coins and silver coins using our platform. We are figuring out how to gather all the data to give the right products to customers. And ours being a tech platform, we are trying to harness the process of making relevant products available to customers when they need them. It goes way beyond groceries. (The wedding store went live on Blinkit’s platform by the third week of November, as it further pivots to non-grocery items.)
How are you seeing expansion of your 10-minute grocery model amidst competition?
The 10-minute (delivery) proposition is fully operational in the top 8 cities, but we are looking to expand fairly rapidly. The roll out in cities is on. We are launching today in Ludhiana, and Mohali; Chandigarh is in the pipeline. Our plan is to expand to at least 100 cities with the 10-minute delivery model by March 2022. By January-end next year, we will have close to 550 stores on our platform (supporting 10-minute deliveries). We have close to 14000 -15000 delivery partners and are hiring 1000 riders a week. Our partners' pay is also higher and this will be ramped up in the future. We are very heavily investing in improving our technology. So we have added about 100 odd people in the tech team in the last 4 months and we will continue to expand the technology feature because I believe that underlines everything that we do.
(Blinkit claims to be powering more than 4 million deliveries under 10-minutes on a monthly basis.)
With stiff competition, and grocery being a low-margin business, do you see profitability taking a hit?
We haven't felt the heat of the competition yet. We are already operational profitable, and we think we know the general concept of the business, partly because we have been doing this for a while. We have taken a lot of those learnings to make sure that from Day 1 we were building a sustainable business. How this plays out, I am also uncertain, but if you ask me whether I am confident? Then the answer is yes! We are ‘contribution positive’ in some of our cities. The objective will continue to be that our partners should have a viable business. Currently we have about 14000-15,000 riders, which is still smaller compared to other delivery peers, but our efficiency is much higher.
There is also general skepticism towards 10-minute deliveries on whether it is really needed. What is your take on that?
Customers are overwhelmingly voting that this (10-minute deliveries) is something that we need. Outside of that what happens, really doesn't matter, it's the customer's needs that matter.