of the week!!
Over the entire weekend the talk of the town was the “PepperTap Shutdown”.
Even those who think thrice before writing a leave application to their bosses, were found giving entrepreneurship and decision-making lessons to Navneet Singh, PepperTap management and their investors.
Quora was buzzing with what’s wrong in the Indian startup ecosystem and things to learn from this failure. FB and twitter were full of trolls.
While most readers were found criticizing PepperTap, there were few that even showed some support.
One crazy guy even had a very weird suggestion of a Free Trial for Navneet & Team (I think his spam comment is still alive @yourstory)
But one thing I found missing in all the conversations (including the article by Navneet) was
“Customer’s Point Of View”,
“How are they feeling about it”
None of the writers came forward and tried to give their views as a direct consumer. In fact, all they were found doing was picking and bashing his statements.
To some extent they were right too…
Did anybody from PepperTap just go back to even to half of these 37,000 consumers that ordered from them on their best day and ask them will they be missing them?
Frankly, I am no one to question PepperTap’s strategy & mantra for their quick growth and even a quicker failure becauseI feel that these guys are quite senior to me in terms of age, experience and BMI. 😀
But surely I would like to add few words as a consumer on this.
I am a tech savvy young entrepreneur. Love to use apps. Lived in Delhi, Chandigarh & Gurgaon and buying groceries from about 20 years now (earlier with my parents as a porter and now myself).
So I would like to talk about three points here that I fail to understand as a customer in PepperTap’s Plan:
1. Buying Experience:
Buying something, especially produce is an experience that is totally different from buying an iPhone or clothes. (Customer reviews and that TAP doesn’t always get you ticking with these.)
From buzzing subzi mandis where a customer walks with fixed cash in hand and decides what and where to buy based on:
- The louder and craziest rhythm in the sabziwala’s (green grocer’s) voice
- Complementary Dhaniya
- Flexibility to negotiate 2 bucks per kg
And where he shops till his fingers almost get broken and get serious blood clots due to polybags he carries.
To the super stores that have ACs puking cold air at you, kids jumping, aunties having board meetings over the quality of shimla mirch and store guys who are always doing stock audits and arrangements (always… I mean ALWAYS, I’ve never seen one with folded hands at back to help you even when you look confused) where
- Slashed price tag
- Sodexo coupons
- Crazy Bundles (2+1 on Namkeen, Toilet Cleaner + Floor Cleaner + Vim etc.)
- Credit Card limit
- Wife’s Preference (If you are married)
makes you add more products to your trolley.
It is not money or discount or ease of buying at one place that gets you to buy products. It’s the complete experience that counts. The experience that even convinces you to happily pay for carry-bags.
Your app failed to replicate/improve that experience.
Last year I was walking out of Huda City Metro Station and saw a PepperTap ad saying (if I remember correctly) something like
“No More Queues, get your groceries delivered at home just with a tap”.
I took my phone out to ask my wife if I need to bring anything while coming, there was a “things to bring” list from my wife on whatsapp already.
I just copied and forward it to ‘Balaji store’ the nearest grocery store to my house (I recalled that I had their number saved & they take orders on whatsapp only after seeing the PepperTap billboard; as I used to see PepperTap’s van standing and driver smoking beedi there).
I came down to the parking lot, took my car and reached home and the delivery guy on cycle just reached along with me. How fast is that?
Delivery Time: Hardly 15 Minutes,
Reverse Logistics: Instant (Optional)
Credit Limit: Bhaiya agli baar dukan pai de dena. Nahin to khate mein daal dengey.
(Either pay next time at the shop or we will add it to your monthly account)
I was thinking: Why didn’t you give this guy a PepperTap tshirt instead of buying a van and creating a fleet…?
My Mom’s Case:
My mom uses a smartphone; two of her favorite things online are wishing good morning to all on whatsapp and reading about her friends on facebook including wishing them on their birthdays.
My parents live in our family home in Delhi. So on a weekend visit while having chai, I told mom about this app that can get groceries at discounted rates at home.
She was not even interested a bit in the topic and continued with her discussion.
So now I turned my laptop towards her, opened the website (I don’t remember exactly which grocery shopping site it was as they all became big together) and started showing her.
Her response, “ How can you buy vegetables watching just a picture? It’s all time waste. Our vegetable cart guy gets them delivered at our doorstep and they don’t charge for delivery too. If they are making 5 bucks extra it’s their right.
When you can spend extra money at the food court and then pay endless taxes over it, we can spend Rs.5 per order too.”
I left laptop as it is, took a teaspoon of namkeen. And nodded saying “Makes Sense”.
Actually, these guys are superheroes for my parents. They sometimes even arrange the veggies in our fridge while dropping them to our kitchen and have a visibility of stock for the entire week. In fact, they don’t even refrain from suggesting what we should be eating or suggesting “fruit/vegetable” of the week. They have been doing this for about over 11 years now.
I was thinking: Why didn’t you get their cart painted in PepperTap colors instead? They have more power to convince my mother than me on monthly supplies!
3. Customer Preference
Buying groceries and then creating something out of them includes a lot of preferences:
Taste Preference(s): Oily, Spicy, Light etc. etc.
Regional background: Did you have different plans for Punjabi & South Indian families living in Delhi?
A free surprise butter cube or lassi pack on Sunday could have got me coming back to your app for an entire month being a Punjabi.
3. Distance From Nearest Store: It matters whether you are living in Sector 46 or Sector 82 in Gurgaon.
4. Daily Schedule: When I was in Chandigarh I had a commuting time of 5 minutes from my home to office. So I had time to check out even three grocery stores to buy just my favorite shampoo. In Delhi it took me 1.5 hours one way to Gurgaon so I had no time to buy groceries, till I shifted to Gurgaon finally. (May be that’s the reason that people in 2nd/3rd tier cities don’t need an app at all for time saving!)
5. Decision Maker: Husband/Wife/ Servant/ Cook
6. Daily Calorie Preference: From fitness freaks to foodies
And there could be 10 more points you could add to it.
I think being in the digital business, this is where your money should have gone.
This would have been the strength of your business (not the discounts)
The data: The App
- The App that suggests calorie intake to cooking suggestions.
- The App that auto adjusts budgets for last days of the month and adds most used products for free rather than offering everyday discounts.
- The app that hosts Sanjeev Kapoor’s Webinar and all those ingredients can now be added to the cart with a single tap in suggested quantity.
This was a factor where I see scalability and value as a consumer.
Gupta ji of Balaji store already had the records of our monthly spend and preferences in his textbook.
PepperTap just needed to take it deeper with their IIT/IIM analytics skills.
And then could have used it for custom targeting of consumers and wished my mom happy birthday on facebook. (she would remember them for the entire year – who wished and who didn’t!)
But sadly that never happened.
In the end I would say, there might be a few things of all the above that you have already thought over/did/attempted when this was alive,
But as a grocery buyer,
I really doubt that if you will ever be missed and you leave this ecosystem with a void.
Best of luck for your old business.
First Published on: Apr 26, 2016