Neighborhood corner shops, called kirana, are an integral part of Indian lives. From toiletries to food and other staples, these stores have seen generations of the same family remain their loyal customers. Seeing a market opportunity, supermarkets and online grocery companies have tried to replace kiranas with their extensive offerings.
In the past 7 years, India has seen the rise and steady growth of e-grocery stores which allowed for a convenient shopping experience. During the pandemic, this convenience became an actual strategy to safeguard one’s health by not having to venture out into crowded public spaces to get groceries. According to the Indian consulting firm RedSeer, the online grocery market has seen a 75% growth in the past 18 months, and they predict it will grow to a $24 billion market by 2024.
Launched in 2013, Blinkit (formerly known as Grofers) was initially a marketplace app for groceries, delivering to local customers within 90 mins from nearby partners. Over the years, their modus operandi has transitioned to more of a warehouse model where they store their inventory.
Now in approximately 30 cities, the company plans to expand its reach to around 100 cities. At the same time, they’re expanding their inventory beyond standard e-grocery offerings. The goal is to be a one-stop solution for users while providing the best customer experience possible.
To understand how they use CleverTap to provide the best customer experience, we spoke to their user engagement and retention team: Vakul Agrawal, Senior Director – Product & Growth; Bharti Prasad, Associate Director – Product Growth and Dhyani Doshi, Senior Manager – Growth.
An initial challenge the company faced was the need for a single, integrated solution that could provide them with robust analytics along with feature-rich marketing automation. With CleverTap, they would be able to do everything from a single platform. “This made it an easy decision for us,” says Vakul.
To meet their growth goals and their never-wavering commitment to providing a superior customer experience, Blinkit needed access to real-time user data. According to Bharti, “We need to know: what are the categories that are not selling today, or what we should be promoting? How are our notifications and all the different communications we send performing? What about our emails — how good is the output of those? What’s the rate of unopened notifications, and the performance of our timed offers which we’re pushing to users?”
The north star for the team is the quality of their customer experience (CX). According to Bharti, the goal is always to see how many “perfect” deliveries they can achieve, where none have to be rescheduled and nothing is lost or missing from the order.
Groceries largely rely on repeat business, and so retention is a key metric. “How many users return is a reflection of whether we were able to provide a perfect experience or not,” says Vakul.
When it comes to grocery purchases in most Indian households, there’s one big monthly haul that coincides with the household’s earning cycle. This usually happens in the first 10 days of the month. Subsequently, frequent ‘top-ups’ occur which are generally of a lower basket value, and the items purchased are less likely to be staples and more likely to be indulgent purchases.
Key events for the team include whether the user finds relevant products, adds them to cart, creates a basket, and eventually places an order.
To deliver a superior customer experience, the team needed to understand their users’ preferences and purchase behavior. This was key for being able to serve their customers and optimize their business for growth and efficiency. With CleverTap, they have easy visibility into all these interactions and data points, which enables them to make smart decisions about how best to scale their business.
According to Vakul, their retention strategy is all about identifying leading metrics and pushing users to perform actions that correlate to those metrics. “Retention is a lagging metric, and over time, we’ve identified different leading metrics. A simple example would be people who pay online versus people who choose cash on delivery. Right now, we see better retention amongst users who pay online,” explains Vakul.
Another leading metric for the team is the average order value: the higher the average order value, the higher the retention rate. As well, users who purchase the in-house brand in the first order are more likely to have a higher retention rate versus other user cohorts.
To further support retention, they have a loyalty program called the Smart Bachat Club, which is a paid membership program. A user who subscribes to the program in the first order or the first month will be easier to retain.
Delighting customers with a great CX is a pivotal part of their engagement strategy. The team creates an optimal onboarding experience using a new user journey. ”The new user journey we’ve created using CleverTap welcomes the user and explains how the app works. We also talk about our inventory and the wide array of product choices and payment options available to users,” says the team.
At the start of the month, Blinkit has a campaign called the ‘Housefull Sale’ which coincides with the earning cycle where users prepare a monthly stock-up list and shop with their preferred retailer. Dhyani adds that it’s their best-performing campaign. Along with that, they have a flagship event called Grand Orange Bag Days (GOBD) which coincides with the Republic Day and Independence Day sale events for the category. GOBD is now one of the biggest properties amongst all the other sale properties run by different grocery players in the country.
Campaigns around reorder frequency have also worked well for them. “With the user data we have, we can predict with good accuracy when they will reorder again,” explains Vakul.
Another campaign created by the team revolved around the following question: If a user buys product X, what is the likelihood that the user will buy product Y? “For example, if a user buys a packet of chips, the propensity of buying a cold drink is fairly high. When a user adds a packet of chips into the cart, it makes sense for us to recommend beverages so that the basket size increases,” says Vakul.
To tackle shopping cart abandonment, the Achilles’ heel of ecommerce, Blinkit has automated campaigns that get triggered in real time to pull users back into the platform. By setting conversion goals for their campaigns and journeys, the team can then use campaign reports to gauge how these have performed and make any adjustments.An example of an automated campaign used to reduce shopping cart abandonment
Blinkit’s segmentation model is based on how regularly and frequently a user purchases from them, along with the value of transactions. “We look at our users from the lens of who are interacting with us in the current month, and who have not engaged with us in the last 15, 30, or 60 days. We then backtrack those activities through events,” mentions Dhyani.
“CleverTap helps us to effectively segment our users and then target different customer groups through various channels such as push notifications, SMS, and emails,” she says. For example, they create a real-time segment of users who haven’t transacted in the past 15 to 30 days. Then, the team sends highly personalized communications to encourage that cohort to revisit the app and make a purchase.
According to Dhyani, users are also segmented based on user attributes. “For example, if we have a set of users who have a high affinity for a particular brand like Surf Excel or Cadbury, we send brand-centric messages to these users. We target city and category-specific communication similarly.” And users who belong to different regions receive localized communication in the relevant regional language.
According to Dhyani, “Custom dashboards are very useful to us as they help us create views and charts for events and users and break user segments into pivots.” The team then measures how many users are converted within the funnel: how many users add to the cart, visit the address, delivery time, and date page, and then place an order. Funnels also form an integral part of their analytics suite.
Focusing on providing users with a great customer experience has boosted Blinkit’s retention rate by 6%. Using an automated onboarding journey has increased the Week 1 new user login rate by 53%. And shopping cart abandonment journeys have boosted the overall conversion rate by 2.64%.
During the pandemic, the team has observed an increase in average order values and overall retention rates. This can be attributed to benefits like convenience and minimal human interaction. Shoppers want better prices, they want the largest assortment and the shortest delivery time. Blinkit is working on all these fronts, striving to continuously improve their CX. We are proud to be a part of their success story and help them delight their customers.