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As quick commerce gains momentum across markets, Pickaboo doubles down on faster delivery

Mobile and gadgets-focused omnichannel ecommerce startup Pickaboo has introduced a 3 hours delivery service a few months ago. Initially launched as a beta, the company is now looking to expand the service to all its customers. 

The service, called FastPick Express, promises guaranteed 3-hours delivery within select Dhaka metro areas. Pickaboo says almost 35% of its deliveries in Dhaka city are currently delivered within 3 hours. The company says after the initial run, it has received an overwhelmingly positive response from the customers. Pickaboo aims to expand the service to 100% of its delivery in the coming months and also expand it outside Dhaka. 

The move makes sense for Pickaboo. As we have written elsewhere: “Pickaboo has built its positioning on superior customer service. The company is also betting on faster delivery. Mobile and gadgets are often impulsive purchases. Delays are bad for impulse. Pickaboo wants to serve the customers when they want it.”  

Fulfillment is the ultimate customer experience marker in ecommerce. Faster fulfillment means customers will have the products they ordered faster. Naturally, it should boost customer confidence in Pickaboo. 

Separately, Pickaboo has also introduced a one-hour delivery service in partnership with Xiaomi Bangladesh where it delivers Xiaomi products within one hour in Dhaka city. 

Previously, Pickaboo had two delivery options: regular and FastPick. With the launch of 3 hours delivery aka FastPick Express, the company is now offering a third option to customers while making its foray into the world of quick commerce. 

The difference between the three options is in the delivery time and charge. Regular delivery usually takes multiple working days to deliver a product while FastPick delivers a product the same or the next day. FastPick Express delivers products in three hours for a premium fee. Pickaboo charges BDT 120 for 3-hours delivery in Dhaka city. 

Quick commerce has gained significant momentum across markets over the last two years. As the name suggests, it is an ecommerce model where ecommerce companies try to deliver products as quickly as possible. Some quick commerce companies are offering deliveries as fast as 7 minutes while others are promising one hour to three hours delivery. 

The hypothesis is that faster delivery can improve customer experience, and demands, and encourage customers to order more frequently. The model seeks to turn online shopping into the default mode of shopping and is expected to fundamentally change online shopping behavior.  

Pickaboo enters the quick commerce race amid the rising popularity of the quick commerce companies across markets. In Bangladesh, several ecommerce players in grocery and food delivery currently offer one hour and 30 minutes delivery. However, faster delivery is not common in the category where Pickaboo operates which is mobile and gadgets. Pickaboo is the first mobile and gadget-focused ecommerce company to introduce a 3-hours delivery in Dhaka. The company was also the first to introduce same-day delivery for the first time in the country in 2018. 

The company says it wants to put itself ahead in the market and reap the benefits of the first-mover in the quick commerce space in the category. 

Many quick commerce companies have raised staggering amounts of money across markets. Investors and operators see quick commerce as the next evolution of ecommerce. It makes sense. 

One of the perks of offline shopping is that it provides a sense of control to shoppers and it has a real-time feeling—I’m shopping now and I can get the products as soon as I buy them. If I go to a shopping mall, I know that I can buy the product and have it within a few hours. However, in traditional ecommerce usually, that is not the case. Many ecommerce companies take multiple days to deliver products, particularly products like mobile and gadgets. For many customers, it is a turn-off and dampens the excitement of shopping. In many instances, shopping is impulsive and delays are bad for impulse. In other instances, customers may need a product within a short time and if you can’t provide delivery within a few hours, you lose that customer. 

To that end, faster delivery aka quick commerce can significantly improve customer experience, help companies take advantage of the impulsive nature of shopping, and expand the potential market. 

The second aspect of quick commerce is that the model completely changes the entire business fundamentals of a company. It blurs the line between offline and online. It creates an operational urgency that can meaningfully push growth. The model can also improve efficiency, reduce wastage, and contribute to competitive advantage. 

While quick commerce offers meaningful advantages, it also demands new operational thinking, management, and infrastructure. Investment requirements are much higher across operations. The majority of the quick commerce companies take a hyper-local route using a dark store model to ensure faster delivery, and cost-efficiently. 

Pickaboo currently runs a centrally managed operation. The company delivers across Dhaka from its central warehouse. It has been slowly building its delivery team and plans to further invest in infrastructure as it expands coverage of faster delivery services. 

However, Pickaboo has long espoused the vision that it aims to build an omnichannel operation where it plans to seamlessly connect its offline retail operation with its online commerce. Pickaboo currently has 17 outlets in three major cities in the country. Due to its integrated model, the company enjoys greater control over these outlets. Pickaboo plans to use these outlets for expanding its quick commerce model. The company says it looks to launch a pilot next month in Chittagong. We have written about Pickaboo’s omnichannel strategy before. From Pickaboo prepares for accelerated growth:

“Pickaboo has practically been blurring the line between online and offline with its omnichannel strategy. It is probably the largest omnichannel mobile and gadget platform in Bangladesh. On the back of an innovative franchisee model, Pickaboo has built an offline retail operation across multiple cities. The offline retail has afforded Pickaboo a new sales channel, extended brand awareness in both ways, expanded its online customer base, and built a network of small businesses.”

[....] 

“Pickaboo is the only omnichannel player in the vertical operating at scale. Omnichannel has many challenges but advantages outweigh most of them. Offline retail continues to be the largest player in any commerce vertical. For any commerce, it will take years to surpass the reach and scale of offline retail. Having an offline retail presence allows Pickaboo to take advantage of that reach and scale. Second, while ecommerce has experienced phenomenal growth in the last two years — thanks to the pandemic, many people still prefer offline shopping for expensive products. Trust remains a difficult terrain for ecommerce to win. Offline retail not only allows Pickaboo to reach these trust-deficient customers but also helps them to convert many of these customers online. Because once these customers learn that Pickaboo also exists on the internet they should be willing to try that as well. More importantly, an intersection between offline and online can help Pickaboo formulate a superior data strategy that can benefit both ends of its operations.” 

Being an omnichannel player, Pickaboo enjoys certain benefits. Although it will take significant technology power and seamless integration, the company can use its growing retail outlets as delivery hubs for faster delivery, which is what the company plans to do with its 3-hour delivery service. From Pickaboo’s offline-online play

If Pickaboo can effectively marry its online and offline operation, it will get a number of benefits. One, Pickaboo can use offline outlets as delivery hubs for online deliveries and thus build a hyper-local ecommerce model that can ensure faster and cost-efficient delivery to customers. 

Pickaboo already conducted a beta test for customers to collect their online orders from their nearby Pickaboo outlet if that is more convenient for a customer for free of charge. When a Pickaboo user places an order online, he/she sees two options: click and collect from a Pickaboo out and another is regular delivery collections. And customers can choose what is best for them. The company is now working to make the service available across its 17 outlets.”  

Pickaboo launched the service as a beta in early 2022. The company says it has learned tremendous amounts over the past months and now plans to roll it out to more customers. In the next few months, the company says it aims to do 80% of deliveries in 3 hours. 

Over the years Pickaboo has built a strong position in the mobile and gadget vertical in Bangladesh—one of the largest categories in ecommerce. The company has used a combination of quality products, excellent customer service, timely delivery, price benefits, and clever marketing to get where it is today. To deepen its dominance, Pickaboo launched its physical retail operation in Q1 2020 to become an omnichannel ecommerce player. The company has since built a strong omnichannel business. 

With the new faster delivery initiative, Pickaboo looks to up the game and take full advantage of its operational upsides. As quick commerce gradually becomes the norm in ecommerce, it will fundamentally change customer behavior in online shopping. Customers will no longer wait 3-4 working days for their orders to arrive. They will ask for faster delivery. To that end, investing in faster delivery is only a strategically sound decision in today’s environment. The move should afford Pickaboo an early mover advantage, necessary competitive moat as the market changes, and new growth opportunities. 

Ruhul Kader is a Dhaka-based writer, researcher, and entrepreneur. He is also the co-founder and CEO of Future Startup and the author of Rethinking Failure: A short guide to living an entrepreneurial life. He writes about entrepreneurship, business, strategy, technology, and culture. He can be reached at [email protected]

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