A decade back, three Co-Founders of a former start-up came together to complete a job which was incomplete. This time, they decided to take the digital route, even as India was warming up to the new online world of social media with websites and mobile applications such as Facebook, Twitter & Foursquare among others, peer to peer and peer to group communication platforms such as BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) and a startup then, which was WhatsApp. The trio decided that they shall now focus on Grocery e-commerce using a website where a customer would place an order and the items would be delivered to their doorsteps, within a few hours. Just that unlike their previous venture Fabmart supermarkets across neighbourhoods, this time the goods would be picked up from a warehouse in tony Indira Nagar in Bangalore. At the time, the venture was a simple website by the name BigBasket.com and didn’t have a mobile app, an intuitive UI or UX like today, lacked private label products and a 60 minute delivery, among other features, which one sees today. Nor did the start-up have unlimited cash in their kitty. They just had a vision and a dream to take the digital revolutionising of grocery delivery using the internet. They did. Last time, they sold Fabmart to Aditya Birla Retail, which then became “More.” Supermarkets and Hypermarkets. Interestingly, Amazon took a strategic stake in More Retail a few years ago and has been building a formidable omni-channel strategy.
Hari Menon, VS Sudhakar and Vipul Parekh not only sold their dream run to the TATA Group for a whopping USD 2 Billion 8 years later after starting their venture but also paved the way for a whole new way of retailing food, grocery and household items. At the peak of the pandemic, the company was delivering 160,000 orders everyday across 200 cities in India. The business grew significantly even as Indians were locked up at home due to the Covid-19 led pandemic which changed the way urban and semi-urban India shops for their home and office pantry. Big Basket had clocked gross sales of $1.1 Bn or INR 8,000 Cr in the financial year 2020-21 that ended in March this year, a growth of 36% over the previous year. The company is now on the road to clock gross sales of around $1.6-$1.7 Bn in FY22, CEO Hari Menon has said in an interview earlier this year. The company was acquired in 2020 by the TATA group to strengthen its Food & Grocery retail presence for a valuation of USD 2 Billion, though the company had raised over USD 1 Billion over the years through a handful of Investors from across the world.
On 24 Nov. 2021, Big Basket opened it’s offline store “Fresho” in the southern suburban neighbourhood of Basaveshwara Nagar in Bangalore. Fresho has also been the brand name of the private label products offered by the company under which fruits, vegetables and other edible items are being sold by the company on their website and mobile apps.
“Big Basket has always endeavored to take a customer-first approach, which the Fresho store has in terms of making fruit, vegetable and grocery purchases as seamless as cash transactions at ATMs. It’s a place to be a game changer, “said Mr. Hari Menon, Co-founder and CEO of BigBasket. He added that the store will provide access to the next 500 million customers who have not yet started buying groceries online, creating new big growth opportunities for BigBasket. Agricultural products stored in stores are underpinned by an extensive “ Farmer Connect ”program that directly procures fruits and vegetables in partnership with more than 30,000 farmers nationwide. With full traceability of all the fresh produce built into the supply chain, we want to give our customers the farmer details of each product, says Menon. The Fresho stores will essentially sell fresh fruits and vegetables in the store. However, to access BigBasket’s wider range of 50,000 products, customers can place orders online through Fresho app and collect them at Fresho stores at their convenience. “We want to be everything in grocery (business). This is very strategic in nature as a large portion of customers still want offline shopping for groceries and fresh supplies. The total addressable market (TAM) is very big,” Menon told the Economic Times after the launch of the store on Wednesday. “There will be good chunks of users that remain physical.”