EasyDesi.Online was started to facilitate social distancing at local ethnic stores during the Covid-19 pandemic.
How it all began
A typical weekend shopping trip to stock up on groceries can result in potential exposure for consumers and store staff. With shelter-in-place restrictions in many states, home delivery services were severely backlogged due to lack of staff. Besides, most small, especially ethnic stores, are not equipped to deal with the logistics of home deliveries even with the help of third-party services.
We reasoned that enabling consumers to order groceries online and pick them up from the store later is an ideal way to reduce exposure while not imposing undue hardship on small stores. We initially targeted South Asian grocery stores given that we are part of the diaspora. As soon as we introduced the initial groceries-to-go service, both consumers and stores took to it instantly. Their overwhelming adoption and support led to the rapid expansion of the service across grocery stores in the US and beyond.
Consumers initially came for the safety of EasyDesi.Online but stayed for the convenience of the groceries-to-go model. In the meantime, we continued to learn about ethnic stores and restaurants, and our consumers.
About ethnic stores and restaurants
We learned the daily lives of its owners, their business, and alternatives for online ordering.
With increasing online options, and large online and big box retailers offering long tail of groceries, including ethnic groceries, these stores are struggling to be relevant.
While providing an online option has become a necessity, online and delivery solutions that exist today for these stores are commission-based; commissions that often cost them an exorbitant 25 to 40% per order.
These are small businesses, and they can neither sustain these commission-based models nor can they operate in a way without losing customers' trust. This trust they have worked hard to build depletes when they resort to marking up item prices to compensate for the higher commission fees!
It is vital for these ethnic grocery stores and restaurants to survive so the children of today and tomorrow continue to appreciate and understand the various cultures that make up the melting pot that America is, and if they do not find sustainable ways to offer online options for pickup and delivery to their customers, they will soon perish.
Whether they are regulars at these grocery stores and restaurants or whether they are sporadic buyers of ethnic groceries and food, our consumers no doubt love the convenience of online ordering, but... they want a solution they can implicitly trust and afford!
Consumers crave transparency and are tired of sneaky markups. While they love the convenience associated with online ordering, they find it unaffordable to pay more for no extra value.
Online catalogs have prices against every item that are clicked and added to a shopping cart, but this price by itself is unreliable. ("Is it easy to click and add? Yes. But what about the price? If a bag of Basmati Rice is $15 online, how would I know what's the in-store price for it?, "Wait, didn't I just buy the same bag for $10 last week?")
While they might order online from any of the existing solutions today in a crunch, often to save time, they are hesitant to trust these solutions on an ongoing basis...bills are not itemized, markups and fees are indecipherably hidden out of plain-sight, and clearly they know when they pay much much more than what they would pay at the store!
The store bill that stores and restaurants currently generate is the only itemized account of an order while also truly reflecting prices in store. We figured that this bill is what consumers want.
And that's why we came up with Dukaan In-store Pickup and Makaan Home Delivery!
With Dukaan and Makaan,
Consumers get the actual store bill with every order. Store bills are a definitive way of knowing you pay store prices with no markups.
Every order is securely paid online. If they choose Makaan, they additionally pay an itemized delivery charge.
Consumers get the same value that any other online solution provides them today, but without the associated markups and hidden fees!
If we want our local ethnic stores to survive the onslaught of online ordering companies, then, this is a sustainable way. Our consumers love the simple, unfussy and forgiving user interface; stores appreciate the increase in orders without having to invest upfront in complicated integrations or spending hours training their staff.
What started as an idea for social distancing has brought us closer to the community and we are grateful for this opportunity to serve you.
Are you an ethnic grocery store or restaurant owner and would like to get started on Dukaan and Makaan? Contact us.