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Your Groceries now delivered in Zero Minutes

This article by Shivaji Dasgupta, Managing Director, Inexgro Brand Advisory, tries to find a sustainable bridge between demand and supply, constantly fuelled by the possibilities of technology

Shivaji Dasgupta

Considering the pace of evolution demonstrated by delivery aggregators, the above headline is only partially exaggerated. Very soon, aided by AI tools which have remote access to the refrigerator and larder, pre-emptive ordering can well be a seamless reality with stocks being replaced on a real-time basis.

This article tries to find a sustainable bridge between demand and supply, constantly fuelled by the possibilities of technology. What is uniquely remarkable, is the rapid ruthlessness of customer expectation, stocks expected to arrive in lesser time that two T20 Cricket overs. The homemakers, until very recently, used to painstakingly write out a monthly ration list, with the only sporadic top-ups being perishables and indulgences, as the norm was, and the list was also a source of savings as well. In many households, even in the most hypermarket era, the shopping excursion was a pleasure trip involving children and seniors alike.

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This shift can partially be explained by nuclear families and sporadic demand patterns, due to travel, and this does render the monthly ration arrival redundant, also the average shopping basket today has a greater presence of perishables than ever before. But the larger reason is clearly psychological, as customers today suffer from a Limitless Pampering syndrome, where at a service level they’re constantly seeking the next high, however irrelevant or unsustainable it may be. Business owners are clearly considering these high-profile interventions, however unreasonable, to emerge as clear sources of value and to influence the holy grail of valuation. 

This is in fact a manifestation of a deeper psychological disorder, from a consumer perspective, as we have simply stopped being satisfied with what we have. As a result of our affluence, we seek the higher mojo, and this is usually designed to pamper our ever-demanding egos, which is constantly on evaluation mode, and thus many of these dramatic value additions, like ten-minute delivery, do not truthfully add to meaningful value. But then this is the Gold Rush revisited in consumer economies, and such unreasonable service excesses are part of the new deal. 

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What is immensely notable is the physical danger posed to delivery personnel, and the vehicular eco system at large, by these frenetic timelines in a disorganized road system. India still has an astoundingly high road accident rate and the sudden proliferation of kamikaze bikers out to deliver bread and cheese may well add to the chaos, these are certainly no essential services. The impact on their mental health is also worth considering, as the stress levels for unacceptable delays mount up every second. I sincerely believe that every consumption can live with an optimal waiting period and this is a trick we are missing in the hypersonic quest for value addition. 

Knowing how modern marketing minds works, I would sincerely urge a shift towards a new age technology-based thinking system and not physical acceleration of delivery. Which means AI-based shopping patterns, digital tracking of home stocks and price offers leading to a culture of predictive shopping baskets and thus delivery. This is a sensible and sensitive way of delighting the customers and building a truthful relationship, as opposed to constantly sparring with traffic rules and parking protocols. 

The Limitless Pampering syndrome is sincerely damaging to all in the eco system, most importantly the customers who are surely paying more for smaller quantities of goods. Technology, usually the accelerator, must now act as a speed breaker, insisting on an intelligent and intuitive customer journey. 

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