Ahmad Saeed, Co-founder and CEO of GrocerApp, connoisseur of House music and a risk-taker originally from Bahawalpur, ready to follow his passions wherever they might lead him joined us this insights session to explore his unique disposition in the e-grocery ecosystem. The event was hosted by our very own: Shoaib Zahid Malik, one of GrocerApp’s earliest investors, a seasoned entrepreneur, investor and Partner at Walled City Co. GrocerApp, founded in 2016, was one of the first online platforms geared towards creating ease by bringing the super store to your doorstep. Over the course of the pandemic it has grown 10x, by 300% in the last three quarters alone and managed to raise $5.2 million in Series A led by Dubai-based investment firm Hayaat Global.
GrocerApp started off with a modest desire to resolve the problems of middle class women and home runners who would have to wait on men to bring home groceries. In Ahmad’s quest for creating convenience he delved deep into researching the industry, using his experience from PakWheels to develop a market place model, connecting different stores to their vicinities. However, the physical and virtual inventories of the stores were extremely mismatched, lowering customer satisfaction. They took many measures like connecting leading point of sale systems like Candela and IPOS to their dashboard but ultimately came to the conclusion that to deliver the best customer experience, they would have to own the supply chain. Consequently, they pivoted to a fulfillment model in 2019, with them improving upon the quality of fresh produce, stock availability, fill rate and pricing.
According to Ahmad’s expertise, post 2005, modern trade stores like Metro, Carrefour and Al-Fatah have been dominating over general trade stores despite their essentiality since modern trade stores target monthly and weekly top up grocers which make up 40% of wallet share each. This is also GrocerApp’s target market while other household names like Pandamart and Airlift Express tend to target the impulse buying wallet share.
Initially, only 1% of the population was shopping online. The pandemic has accelerated the process of bringing shoppers online. GrocerApp itself grew from an 8,000 square foot fulfillment centre that could handle up to 500 orders to 80,000 square feet, branching their operations over 4 cities, Lahore, Rawalpindi, Islamabad, and Faisalabad, along with a launch in Karachi set for early September. However, this growth and brand loyalty wasn’t just handed to them. The GrocerApp team carefully deliberated the needs of the people, deciding to cut down their assortment rate in order to provide more people with staples and necessities. They also set limits on buying to avoid hoarding behaviors, ensuring groceries would continue being available for everyone.
Earnest in his want to help new startups, Ahmed shares his insight about fundraising. Venture Capitalists and Angel investors, sorted through your sector and market can be a great help to new businesses, providing not only funds but mentorship and a doorway to international VCs. “You will hear a 100 no’s before you hear a yes.” Rather than ruminating on the rejection entrepreneurs should figure out why they received a no, while being masters of their domain and further developing their business.