You must have heard all the views about how FDI in retail will lead to disappearance of your local kirana shops. We don’t really know if that is going to happen or not. But even before Walmart could step into the country, one Mumbai based grocery store has already disappeared! Where did it go? Was Walmart behind its disappearance? Well, it didn’t really disappear, it just went online. Discovering Mumbai presents ‘Local Banya’, an innovative online grocery store started in May by Karan Mehrotra, Rashi Choudhary and Amit Naik, which wants to change the way you shop for grocery, one click at a time!
|The Local Banya Mascot|
Local Banya was the idea of Karan Mehrotra, a computer engineer from Mumbai, who has previous experience of handling distribution for Hindustan Unilever at his family business. The dream of doing something of his own finally led him to starting Local Banya. Karan is supported by his business associates Rashi Choudhary and Amit Naik. Rashi is an MBA from SP Jain and has held various responsibilities at organizations like Raymonds, E&Y. Marketing and customer management are her forte. Amit is an alumnus of IIM Lucknow and has worked for IT giants like Directi and L&T. He is the strategy and brand building partner at Local Banya. Together the trio has created an innovative online convenience store that wants to ease your problems in buying grocery items and give you an experience which your local kirana can’t afford!
|Amit Naik (Left), Karan Mehrotra (Center) and Rashi Choudhary|
Local Banya was born out of the problems the trio faced regularly while shopping for groceries. “Every time we telephoned our local banya, he would end up taking a wrong order or send us something other than what we had ordered”, they say. Even supermarkets didn’t ease the situation, as one had to motivate self to move out of the house, an uphill task during summers and monsoons especially. The plight of working moms, who have to rush to supermarkets after office, was also one the motivators. So was the trouble that expats have while communicating with the banya at the local Mom & Pop shops. “That's why we came up with the idea of an online supermarket and we knew exactly why it would click”, says the trio.
At Local Banya you can expect the one of the best prices in Mumbai on your favourite grocery items. The aim is to give customers access to high quality products without wasting any time or energy. As of now more than 3000 products, ranging from daily provisions, packaged foods, cosmetics, beverages, health care products, are available for purchase. It offers free home delivery anywhere in Mumbai, so you don't need to worry about the drive, traffic, pollution or missing your favourite TV show! All one has to do is choose the products, the delivery time and it’s done. That’s the radical change that Local Banya brings to your grocery buying experience.
|The team sporting banya's mustache|
Local Banya brings ease to your grocery buying, but setting it up and running is not as easy. “Initially it had been challenging to convenience suppliers with our business model. But over time with our business doing well, they are not only confident but also extend full support to us”, they say. Then there are other operational challenges like handling and stocking of products. Dealing with food means that they have to constantly monitor expiry and damages. “We have 5 levels of checks put in place before we send the shipment to our customers”, they say. Mumbai as a location also poses a challenge for operations. High labour and transport rates hurt in an industry where margins are thin. “But then, this city has lured us with the mere size of the market. Being linear in its shape, it is beneficial for us as we can keep a few stocking points and cater the entire city”, says the trio.
The journey so far has been bittersweet and many valuable lessons have been learnt. Right from designing the web page to the launch stage they say they made many mistakes. “For example, there were coordination problems; we did not have a large range of products when we started. Proper planning had to be backed with proper execution. Nobody's perfect. We've done some things right. We can say we are evolving at every stage”, they say. Throughout the initial days there was ample support, both in terms of moral and financial support, from near and dear ones. Friends and family were also the testing grounds for their concept during the test phase, which ensured that many aspects were tested and fine-tuned before the launch.
Local Banya’s weapon of choice, when it comes to marketing, is word of mouth. They look at word of mouth as one of the strongest tools in their arsenal. They have also been featured in many newspapers and blogs, which has helped spread awareness of their services. Like all new age start-ups they too are very active on the social media front, using Facebook and twitter extensively to market their services.
“Think Home, Think Local Banya”, is the motto that they live by. Local Banya aims to get top mind share for everything that makes a house, a ‘home’. With each passing day, it aims to stock everything a home could need. Their offering idolizes spontaneous fulfillment of desire. They are inching towards this goal with the help of express delivery options and one-click ordering. Mumbai being the crowded and fast paced city that it is; living here can be a daunting task if you have a family and small kids to take care of. This is where Local Banya comes to the rescue of Mumbaikars, by making grocery buying less of a chore and more pleasurable. Guess it’s time to say goodbye to your local kirana shop and say hello to LocalBanya.com!
You can check out their offerings on their website - here