17 September 2015 12:32:13 IST

Wake up to the world of hyperlocals

Young MBAs must understand the various facets of the business, study the players and get ready to be noticed and soon recruited

“Wake up to freshness every morning” screams the headline of a two-page ad in one of the recent editions of a newspaper. One more hyperlocal brand called 24x7 Fresh is desperately trying to ease into the huge market for local goods. Hyperlocal is the new buzz word in the ecommerce business and venture capitalists are bending over backwards to invest in this category as they see enormous potential. With the increase of two income families and growth of the internet, ecommerce is bound to grow the VCs say.

Number crunching

Let’s look at some of the data. Internet users have grown from 198-million to 269-million users in 2015, with an expectation of it growing to as much as 500 million by 2017. The contribution of Etailing is expected to become 28 per cent in 2015 up from 14 per cent in 2011.

An engaged consumer

Men and women are spending a lot of time on shopping apps with nearly 90 minutes a day on the average being spent per month on these apps. It might be surprising to note that it is no longer a metro phenomenon and people in the smaller towns too are spending more time on these apps, approximately 15 per cent more time.

It is hardly surprising that the ones that hog attention and money are the likes of Flipkart, Snapdeal and Quikr to smaller ones like ShopClues and Yepme. Sadly, though, the consumer, as they are the world over, are looking for discounts and deals. This is a sad situation from the branding perspective. Hopefully things will change.

The categories that are active

Let’s look at some of the categories and brands that are striving to get our attention. As people from the cities, cook less and eat more brands such as Foodpanda, Zomato, TinyOwl, Swiggy and EazyDiner are some of the brands that consumers are aware of and patronising. There are a host of brands offering handyman services such as Timesaverz. There is the global company Groupon offering discounts from local restaurants, spas and shops and local brands like Zopper too.

With other apps you can book doctors, get study lessons and even compare prices. Do you want a yoga trainer at home? Urban Clap offers this, though I must mention that my request to them for a yoga teacher at home is still to be acted upon by them. Sadly, while many of them have big budgets, their back end still needs to be worked on, in my view at least.

Shah Rukh Khan is big basketing, are you?

A brand that is making waves, in Bengaluru at least, is Big Basket. I know enough of the young people in my office who are smart enough to get their daily groceries from Big Basket which delivers cut vegetables and even places the vegetables in specified shelves in the refrigerators in their house. Clearly the company has caught the fancy of investors, like several others in the sector, and has been able to afford large ads and what’s more a celebrity of some consequence in the guise of Shah Rukh Khan. Have you seen the commercial? If not let me take you through it. Two delivery guys come to deliver groceries in Shah Rukh’s house and are asked to enter from the back. “Will he be at home”, “Must have gone for a shoot?” says the other not so hopefully. Imagine their surprise when the door is opened by Shah Rukh himself . He asks for the apples, oranges, basmati rice and everything that a normal house wife would order from the grocers. He also tongue in cheek says that this is his role at home and says that he will order every week and the guys can take a selfie with him the next time round. Surprised? I certainly was. Let’s see if the superstar makes a difference to the grocery brand.

What of the future?

While I certainly see a big opportunity for many of you in the hyperlocal space as I expect the sector to recruit heavily. But I do have certain reservations about the long-term future of some of the companies, at least that are spending huge sums of money trying to buy eyeballs and market share. I will also go back to a point made earlier in the piece about the preoccupation of consumers with discounts and deals. This could easily become the bane of the industry, and if I may add, the economy as well. Brands and marketers must try to focus on customer engagement. That is the way to lock in the consumer not deals and bargains.

Whatever may be the case, there is no doubt that the hyperlocal business is an interesting proposition for youngsters like you. Understand the various facets of the business, study the players and get ready to be noticed and soon recruited!

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