The number of consumers purchasing meat and seafood online has increased three-fold in the last two years in Chennai and across the State.
Startups like Fipola, TenderCuts, Licious and FreshtoHome are attracting millennials to make purchases online. According to estimates by analysts who track the poultry industry, over a lakh people are now placing orders online. But of this, only 30-40% are repeat customers. On an average, the billing per purchase is anywhere between 500 and 1,000.
Picking up cues from the big players in this space, even unorganised meat shop owners are creating websites and WhatsApp groups (to send out offers) from where customers can order. Those who cant afford to maintain websites are offering doorstep deliveries for their regular customers.
TenderCuts, which started its operations in January 2016, is currently doing 4,000 orders per day in Chennai and of this 65% is online. Its founder and CEO, Nishanth Chandran, said that growth has been good both offline and online. What we are seeing is, once a customer comes to the store for 3 or 4 times, they then move online, he said.
We do over 5,000 orders of which 30% is online, said Sushil Kanugolu, Managing Director and CEO of Fipola Retail India. Mr. Kanugolu, who started Fipola in December 2016, said that meat consumption had increased over the years. With income levels going up, consumers now buy meat twice or thrice a week, he added.
Bengaluru-based FreshtoHome currently handles over 3,000 orders per day. 90% of our orders are from online while the rest come from stores in Chennai, Shan Kadavil, CEO of Freshtohome, said.
So far, meat and fish were primarily sold at fresh markets across Chennai. But after these startups came into existence, buying patterns have changed. Those who shop for fish and meat online opine that it is very convenient and they can even slot a time of delivery. When you shop online, there are offers and deals of the day. The price is on a par with the rates at the local shops. One can also chose what kind of cut you want, said Thangavel, a techie who purchases fish thrice a week online. He added that since he has visited all the stores, he is confident that the fish sold is formalin free. All the shops follow Halal-certified processes, he said.
In Chennai, the maximum online orders are coming from industrial and IT corridors. For Fipola, a lot of online bookings come from the OMR belt, the IT corridor of Chennai. But if you look at ECR, people prefer visiting our stores, Mr. Kanugolu pointed out. FreshtoHome also witnesses a similar pattern, its CEO said.
Adapting to change
The unorganised shops that you find around each locality are also adapting to keep pace with the organised players. K. Jaikumar, who runs a meat shop in T. Nagar, said that many of his customers migrated online and thats when he realised that he had to upgrade. I didnt know how to access or use websites. So I started taking down numbers of my regular clients and created a WhatsApp group with the help of my son. Now through word of mouth people are calling me for home deliveries, he added.
Many butcher shops in the city have changed interiors, focusing on hygiene, and hand out contact numbers for home deliveries.