Impatient Indians are driving quick-commerce - Hindustan Times

Impatient Indians are driving quick-commerce

ByShuchi Bansal
Mar 14, 2024 02:31 PM IST

The 10-minute grocery delivery, which first tested the waters during the pandemic, is now coming of age with more firms entering the business and the existing ones adding new categories

Mumbai: If you are living in one of India’s metropolitan cities, it is highly likely that you have been ordering more and more of your daily essentials – from food and groceries to personal care items from, say, a Blinkit, Swiggy Instamart or Zepto, which barely take 10-30 minutes to deliver the goods to your doorstep.

Indians are opting for online shopping more than ever (Representative Photo)
Indians are opting for online shopping more than ever (Representative Photo)

The 10-minute grocery delivery which first tested the waters during the pandemic is now coming of age with more firms entering the business and the existing ones adding new categories like fashion, beauty, gifting and electronics to be delivered in under 30 minutes.

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E-commerce marketplace Flipkart is said to be entering quick-commerce which is an almost instantaneous delivery of goods to customers. It’s the super-fast version of traditional e-commerce firms (like Flipkart, Amazon, Nykaa) which are now pitted against quick-commerce or insta-commerce platforms for business.

Anjana Pillai, partner, Quantum Consumer Solutions, vouches for increased action in the segment since her company works with several e-commerce and quick-commerce firms. Quick-commerce has caught the consumer’s fancy here because Indians are the world’s most impatient consumers, she said citing research data.

This is evident in our lack of road etiquette, disregard for traffic rules and intolerance of queues. “Examine it deeper and you realise that Indians associate speed with progress. I don’t have the patience to deal with any kind of slowness because it means I am losing out on an opportunity,” she said. “We believe in meteoric progress and time is crucial in making that happen,” she added. That explains the rapid adoption of quick-commerce among aspirational Indians.

Secondly, big cities house a large number of migrants from small towns who feel isolated and lonely in the metros. “We find that continuous consumption is a way to offset that loneliness and alienation. And when you have quick-commerce apps, the instant gratification comes easy,” Pillai said.

But what kind of a cultural shift in shopping behaviour explains the need to add products like fashion and electronics in a 10-minute delivery service?

Santosh Desai, consumer behaviour expert and CEO of Futurebrands, said that though the big shift in consumer behaviour occurred during COVID-19 when online shopping became the norm, “quick-commerce has normalised impatience. Marketing has moved in a way where the distance between desire and fulfilment has narrowed,” he said.

Earlier, a consumer saw a product ad sitting at home, liked it, and if it evoked desire, she went to the market and looked up three shops to purchase it. “The distance between desire and fulfilment was wide. E-commerce changed that with home delivery in 3-7 days and now quick-commerce fulfils your desire in 10 minutes,” he said.

It is true that barring a few items where 10-minute shopping may be useful, quick-commerce isn’t fulfilling a need for speed. “It’s becoming a habit not because we need it but because it is there. In that sense, the change has happened not through the lens of need but simply from the lens of availability. It is a supply-side shift and not so much of a demand-side shift,” Desai explained. Owing to such instant gratification or fulfilment of desire, “we are moving more and more consumption into the area of impulse…Things (which) we earlier planned to buy, we’re now scrolling and buying,” he added.

But Anand Ramanathan, partner, Deloitte, believes instant delivery is clearly something that consumers want. People have got used to the convenience of getting immediate home delivery even of one or two small products whenever they want, he said.

Quick-commerce firms are adding new products for insta delivery as the average ticket size for groceries is small. “So, while food gives frequency of purchase, electronics will drive profitability for these companies,” he said. “Consumers, especially the younger lot, want things fast and are willing to pay extra to make their life easy,” he said.

Earlier, people went online shopping looking for discounts. “So, the price-sensitive customer was very dominant. Now there’s the convenience-seeking consumer who shops online. With growing incomes, some online shoppers have graduated from being bargain hunters to the group seeking convenience and willing to pay a premium for it. Those are the people driving quick commerce,” Ramanathan said.

Pre-pandemic consumer behaviour of planned shopping and stocking up is passe. Insta-commerce is here to stay, he said. According to a Deloitte analysis, quick commerce will have a 32% share by 2030 among new online retail channels.

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