Until may this year, a typical weekend in Radhika Makkar’s life meant some respite from daily deadlines at her job in the sales and marketing department of a fashion magazine. The 28 year-old Bandra resident, however, had no such luck when it came to shopping for groceries. “All I wanted was to sit back and take it easy sometimes, but there was always some errand or the other when it came to buying, say, vegetables, oil, butter…the list is endless, as you’d know,” says Makkar.
That was until she logged on to ekstop (.com), an online grocery and daily supplies website. Started in May by private equity executives Sumat Chopra and Shaurya Mehta, Ekstop offers everything that your local kirana store and that swanky supermarket do, at the click of the mouse. “Ekstop tries to combine the positives of the local kirana and the supermarket and fill in the gaps. At the kirana store, for instance, you don’t have the opportunity to compare products and prices because the owner barely has the time to wait by while you make your decisions. He, however, tops the list when it comes to delivery at your doorstep and often knows exactly what you want. The supermarket, on the other hand, offers a vast range of products, but you need to spend a long time pushing your cart to get the best deals and discounts. Ekstop does all of that, without making you leave your home,” says Chopra.
You can log on to the site and choose from a range of household supplies, groceries, healthcare, baby products and stationery, call the number on the website and have your order delivered within four hours or on the next day. A customer executive calls the client soon after the order is placed to confirm it and provide the reference number, and keeps the client informed of the status of the order, too. The online store does not have a tab on the minimum amount of purchase essential for delivery — so you get your supplies no matter how small the size and cost is. Most items on Ekstop have a 3-10 percent discount over the MRP. “When I started using Ekstop two months ago, I had no idea of what to expect. We are so used to checking every item before putting it in the shopping cart — quality, quantity, size…but when my vegetables reached me the first time, I was pleasantly surprised to see that they were perfectly firm and ready to use,” says Makkar.
Once, overcome by a strong urge to make a dish for which she had no essential ingredients, Makkar called the website and requested them to send things over “urgently”. “I was prepared to wait for an hour, but the order reached me in 20 minutes,” she says. Before launching Ekstop, Chopra says they surveyed residents from all across the city, right from Kharghar to Cuffe Parade. The findings provided some interesting insights — 40 per cent of the grocery sales came from kirana stores. Customers, he learnt, were highly inconvenienced because they often had to rush to two-three different stores for different products. Most people hated spending weekends shopping for groceries. Seventy per cent of his focus group said they hated queues, which were inevitable in supermarkets, and 60 per cent wanted to compare product prices, but couldn’t because they didn’t have the time or space to do so.
“That’s where Ekstop comes in. We have had over 1,000 orders over the past two months, and surprisingly, it isn’t just homemakers who are calling us. Almost 50 percent of our customer base includes working professionals and couples,” says Chopra. Over the next two weeks, Ekstop plans to start operations in Thane and Navi Mumbai and, soon after, plans to stock pet food, imported and gourmet food ingredients, and fresh meat and seafood (they currently offer frozen meat only).