The year Zepto, Instamart & Blinkit started ultrafast grocery war


Aditi Shrivastava

156 reads

Aditi Shrivastava

156 reads

No one has cracked the economics of grocery delivery in India. But grocery is the single-largest category in retail, and therefore, impossible to ignore. Monetising a base of 20 million convenience shoppers in the country will be a major feat

December 23, 2021


After burning through $160 million in 2014-16 and struggling to crack the 90-minute, hyperlocal grocery delivery, Grofers co-founder and CEO Albinder Dhindsa figured it might be better to speed up than slow down. The outcome: a serious stab at the 10-minute scamper in 2021.

Given that instant grocery is currently a red-hot segment, with multiple players entering the race as ‘Amazons on steroids’ and investors pouring capital, his assessment seems to be on the money. 

But all of this feels familiar. 

In 2015, India’s hyperlocal delivery wars peaked as Grofers raised $120 million in a round led by SoftBank, Tiger Global and Sequoia. Around the same time, Snapdeal backed Grofers’ rival, Peppertap; Flipkart quietly rolled out the ‘Flipkart Nearby’ app; and Amazon launched a separate Prime Now app for two-hour deliveries.

None of these expensive experiments, which entailed using technology to make order dispatches superfast, lasted long. Flipkart Nearby and Peppertap shut down, while Grofers, now called Blinkit, pivoted to various formats before circling back. The attempts faltered because of unsustainable business models, especially poor unit economics. 

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