In an article on LiveMint in February 2016, the father of Indian Retail; Kishore Biyani said that none of the hyperlocal or online grocery stores have a chance of surviving. Kishore Biyani is the founder of Future Group, the businesses which owns Big Bazaar, Central, Health & Glow etc.
Big Bazaar eventually got into debt and in this was sold to Aditya Birla group. So my article headlines ‘If You Wanted PepperTap to Work Then More Women Must Work’. What is the link between women and PepperTap?
PepperTap was an online grocery store which had a similar business model like Big Basket. It ran on a ‘zero inventory’ business model which means that no stock of groceries would be kept. PepperTap had tie ups with local stores and from there they would get you your order.
Past Tense for PepperTap?
I am using a past tense tone here because they shut down a few days ago. Pepper Tap had active operations for about 18 months and they received a total funding of $50mn dollars during that period. That is a lot of money for any Indian business.
However, 18 months is a very short span for any business. I am not going to get into the core analysis about why they failed but instead I would like to focus on one of the aspects which I think is related to why they failed. Everyone talks about cost of customer acquisition being high, the rate of burning cash for startups etc but I want to look at this from a different angle.
PepperTap Failed Because Women Aren’t Working
Unfortunately, I have legitimate data for only until 2011-2012 to explain my analysis. India is one of the few countries where the rate of participation of women in the workforce has drastically declined in the last decade. It fell from 33.7% in 1991 to 27% in 2012, according to UN gender statistics.
So how is this linked to PepperTap?
When my mother met with an accident, she was in her mother’s place for two months for her physiotherapy and recovery process. I had a 10-11-hour work day. I had to water the garden, do the laundry, cook lunch and dinner, breakfast of course SLV saved my time and my life and do some chores around the house. Because I had little to no time to go out and shop for groceries I had to rely on Big Basket for my groceries.
Now my mother is home, she takes care of a lot of the household chores and I get time to get the weekly requirement for groceries. In so many families in India, especially urban India (surprisingly), the number of women working is just around 30%. The 70% of the women are at home. Which means they get the time to go out to a store and buy what they want.
This means they have no reason to use PepperTap or any other grocery app. They can even use the notion that the delivery is never immediate so why wait for several hours or maybe even a day when there is a store nearby. The point is there is someone at home in many Indian families who has the time to go out and buy the groceries.
If you want these businesses to succeed, then you should have more women working. We need to change the mindset of people who have this belief that women shouldn’t work. There are some communities which are so orthodox that they have women wear that hoodie saree.
If there were campaigns for women that encouraged them to work rather than campaigns that demanded women to enter temples, this country would be a better place with more families having more disposable income.