Express Delivery Services Now Include Smartphones: Get Yours in Minutes

Rapid delivery platforms such as Swiggy Instamart, Blinkit by Zomato, BBNow from BigBasket, and Zepto are expanding their swift delivery services to include electronic goods and white goods as soon as Diwali this year. Industry insiders indicate that brands are keen to collaborate with these platforms due to the model’s success with fast-moving consumer goods.

By October 29, consumers could potentially receive a new smartphone or kitchen appliance within 10 minutes at their doorstep, just in time for Diwali festivities running from October 29 to November 3 this year.

Understanding Quick Commerce

Quick commerce (q-commerce) ensures goods are delivered within 10-30 minutes of ordering. Also referred to as ‘on-demand delivery,’ q-commerce focuses on smaller quantities of high-demand items like groceries, stationery, and over-the-counter medicines. This delivery method gained popularity during the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, amidst disruptions in supply chains.

Operational Dynamics of Quick Commerce

Unlike traditional warehouses located on the outskirts, q-commerce relies on micro-warehouses or ‘dark stores’ positioned near delivery points, typically within urban areas. These establishments stock approximately 2,000 high-demand items, aiming to function as expansive local convenience stores rather than emulating large retailers such as BigBazaar or Walmart. Dark stores, situated close to residential complexes, cater within a 2 km radius to ensure prompt delivery. Unlike e-commerce, where delivery can take days, q-commerce aims for deliveries within 30 minutes to an hour, greatly enhancing customer convenience.

Benefits of Quick Commerce

Quick commerce has revolutionized retail by offering unprecedented speed, convenience, and efficiency in delivering goods and services, thereby enhancing the shopping experience for Indian consumers. Key advantages include:

  1. Speed: Deliveries are significantly faster compared to conventional retail outlets.
  2. Assured availability: Investments in AI and real-time inventory monitoring ensure products are always in stock.
  3. Round-the-clock operation: Dark stores can operate 24/7, unlike traditional brick-and-mortar retailers.
  4. Environmental benefits: By consolidating deliveries and optimizing routes, q-commerce reduces the environmental impact associated with transportation, often using electric vehicles.

FMCG Sector’s Growing Channel

Quick commerce has emerged as a crucial channel for FMCG giants like Hindustan Unilever, Dabur, Adani Wilmar, and Parle Products, contributing to 35% of their ecommerce sales in the last fiscal year.

Feasibility of Electronics in Quick Commerce

Platforms like Blinkit, Zepto, BigBasket, and Swiggy now offer delivery of small electronics such as earbuds, smartwatches, Bluetooth speakers, and kitchen appliances. Blinkit even piloted the sale of Apple’s iPhone 15 in select cities last year, demonstrating the potential for high-value electronics in the q-commerce model. The platform offered no-cost EMI and cashback options, partnering strategically with Apple reseller Unicorn for execution.

This summer, Havells tested quick delivery for fans and air-coolers, further showcasing the model’s applicability for larger electrical items.

Boat, a popular audio and wearables brand, has already begun selling its top products through Blinkit and Zepto, with plans to expand into soundbars.

Scope and Limitations

While quick commerce platforms like BigBasket aim to deliver most electronics within 15 minutes and larger appliances like refrigerators and air-conditioners within 30-45 minutes, the range of electronics available may not be as extensive as on platforms like Flipkart or Amazon. These platforms prioritize top-selling models based on customer demand, managing storage needs for larger items that require substantial warehousing space and four-wheeler delivery.

Challenges Ahead

Despite immense market potential, quick commerce platforms may face challenges in providing hands-on experiences and services like exchange offers and EMI options, crucial for customers purchasing smartphones and larger electronics. Addressing these needs effectively could turn smartphones, in particular, into a significant revenue stream for these platforms.

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