Pakistani online grocery startup QnE is hoping to survive in a competitive market
With the current frenzy around entrepreneurship and startups, people have come up with unique solutions to our everyday problems. There are online wedding planners, numerous e-shopping sites and recently online grocery stores have also sprouted up.
Online grocery is relatively new but has gathered a huge popularity with the international market. In 2013, America had $15 billion sales from online grocers. While Britain had €7.1 billion sales and this number is expected to double come 2016. Famous names like Amazon and Walmart are banking on this interest around e-commerce. Not only that, startups are also seeing the potential in this market – Angel.co has 51 listed startups in this domain.
The local market is not that disappointing either. During the past few years, several startups have tapped Pakistan’s approximately $30 million e-commerce market. Most of them were focused on electronics and clothing. But now if you Google “online grocery stores” a string of names appear, which shows how much local startups are taking an interest in this domain. QnE, or QuicknEasy, is a new startup hoping to survive the competition.
The idea for QnE was conceived by Premier Agencies, who are already in the grocery distribution business for the past 40 years. Their website was officially launched in June. We reached out to the QnE team. Here’s what Muhammad Bashir, COO of QnE, had to say about their inspiration and how the idea materialized:
“We are living in a time when almost everything has an online solution. Our main goal was to assist people who had trouble with grocery shopping. There are a large number of people who do not have easy access to such facilities. So we launched this portal for their ease. Now we are externally incubated at P@SHA’s Tech Incubator. Our mode of operation is very simple and our website is also easy to use. People log in and add whatever they need to their cart. They can view their order before confirming and payment is on delivery.”
At this point, you are probably thinking that there are several other online grocery stores providing similar services. So what is QnE doing apart from the usual? QnE claims to be the first online grocery store that aims to provide a better customer experience. According to them, their potential competitors outsource their need for logistics and customer care. QnE has their own people who deliver goods to people’s houses. This helps QnE to make sure that customers don’t have any complaint regarding the delivered good and the delivery team’s behaviour. They also have several discounts and promotional offers for their customers. They use special ‘QnE points’ which people can use for discounts on products. This is what QnE feels makes them different from the other startups in a similar line of business.
QnE is planning a marketing campaign targeting digital and BTL activities. They are taking things slowly for now and are taking 10-15 orders daily. When we asked them about their future plans, Bashir said that they are concentrating on Karachi for now. They hope to first expand to other areas of Karachi and then to other big cities of Pakistan and eventually become a leading grocery store in Pakistan.
Another thing to be noticed here is the absence of a payment method other than cash on delivery. The team’s opinion on this matter is:
“Currently the only method of payment is cash on delivery. It is one of the best options available in Pakistan since not everyone has access to credit cards and people find it hard to trust use of credit cards on a website for first-time purchase. However, we are planning to integrate other methods of payment in the website.”
Getting the customer’s approval will be tough here because Pakistan has countless e-grocery stores. QnE will have to up their marketing game if they hope to stand a chance in this increasingly competitive market.