Concept of on-demand grocery delivery was a rage amongst startups in India during the 2014-17 period. Many players including BigBasket, Grofers, PepperTap, and Localbanya were centered around on-demand grocery. It also helped them raise a large amount of venture capitalist money.
But the concept of on-demand grocery is almost dead. Grofers had pivoted from 90 minutes delivery almost two years ago while Localbanya and Peppertap wounded up operations long back. Now, BigBasket also appears to be done with its feature called ‘Express Delivery’.
Team members at Entrackr has been trying to order via Express Delivery across Gurugram, Delhi, and Noida (NCR) for over several weeks. However, all these attempts failed. Instead of ‘Express service’ that promises delivery within 90 minutes, the company is showing delivery timing in several slots (next day or sometimes same day).
We also have checked the feature in other cities such as Mumbai, Pune, Lucknow, and Patna, however, we couldn’t find on-demand feature in these cities as well. The on-demand feature is even not available for premium BBStar members. It’s a premium subscription programme offered by BigBasket.
Meanwhile, the service is also available in Bengaluru on a select number of SKUs. Entrackr has sent queries to BigBasket’s co-founder Hari Menon. We will update the post as he responds.
Several experts emphasise that on-demand delivery is unviable as the cost per delivery is high. This is the reason why earlier Grofers and now BigBasket is moving from the express delivery feature. Such service costs about Rs 80 per delivery while slot based delivery is relatively cheaper.
Since BigBasket has suspended on-demand delivery, it’s likely to have shut down many dark stores which were used to facilitate quick deliveries. Suspension of express delivery has come at a time when BigBasket is betting big on the subscription commerce segment with BBDaily.
Like MilkBasket and Dailyninja, subscription-only BBDaily delivers milk and daily essentials every morning.
While we don’t know whether BigBasket would also be suspending express delivery feature in Bengaluru or not, the pull out of service from many cities herald the death of on-demand delivery in India. No other player (with substantial scale) except BigBasket used to do on-demand deliveries.
The development also brings online grocery segment to a full circle. When grocery e-tailing started in India, many startups jumped to tap into the opportunity with slot based models. However, the shift from the model happened as VCs were showing interest in the on-demand model.
Now, with the concerns around profitability and unit economics in express delivery model, these firms have switched back to slot based deliveries.