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Green Grocery grows up, experiences strong demand

Safe food startup Green Grocery has been on a roll. Founded in 2020, the startup has launched multiple new products and expanded distribution channels over the last two years. Today, it offers a fascinating set of products and services in the safe food space. 

In early 2022, it launched Grocery as a gift, a new product that allows customers and businesses to send beautifully packaged grocery products as gifts. 

The product has been a runaway success. The company has already built a growing B2B business on the back of it.  

Earlier, it introduced a grocery subscription service with mild success. Its various grocery packages have been doing pretty well. 

The relentless focus on innovation and cost-efficient growth hacks has propelled the company on a steady growth path. 

A proper introduction 

Green Grocery is a Dhaka-based online safe food company that sells a wide range of chemical-free fresh food products directly sourced from farmers. The company collaborates with a grassroots farming community using a team of young representatives. 

It then processes the products in-house and delivers them directly to customers. 

Green Grocery started operation in June 2020 with some 30 products and 7 part-time employees. The company was broadly in an experimental state. Testing different ideas to gauge the market response. 

It then launched a website for customers to place orders and several campaigns on Facebook. 

The response came immediately, convincing the Green Grocery team to double down. 

GG partners with Chaldal for ecommerce distribution
GG partners with Chaldal for ecommerce distribution

Growing up 

Green Grocery has since evolved into a fast-growing safe food company. The business has grown. The full-time team has grown to 20 people along with 5-6 part-timers.

The company says 70-90% of customers are returning customers.  

The number of products it sells has swelled to more than 40. It sells varieties of rice, mustard oil, gawa ghee, pure honey, various types of secret recipe masala, spices, homemade spreads, brewed oils, pickles, homemade jelly, peanut butter, and much more. 

The company expanded its distribution channel — Green Grocery started with a website and a presence on Facebook and social channels. It has since added mainstream ecommerce platforms including Chaldal, and Daraz among others into its distribution channel. Diversification of distribution channels will likely help the company with increased orders and reach. 

Over the last two years, the company has introduced several innovative products and services, productizing various grocery services. 

Two notable products include grocery as a gift and a monthly grocery subscription services. 

Green Grocery grocery as a gift
Green Grocery grocery as gift

Grocery as gift 

Grocery as gift service allows customers to send grocery products as a gift to anyone they want. Individual customers and businesses can use the service. Green Grocery provides customization allowing companies to send company-branded grocery gifts. 

We generally don’t consider groceries or similar products as gifts. To us, gifts are often fancy and expensive things that although high in aesthetic value, lack functionality. Contrary to that, groceries have high functional value and if you can attach aesthetic values, groceries can be a perfect gift that serves both needs. 

Since its inception, Green Grocery has wanted to turn grocery into an experience with beautiful packaging and excellent customer experience. Grocery as a gift is a perfect product to pursue that ambition. 

Grocery as a gift has received an excellent response from the market. Green Grocery says it has worked with 25+ corporate clients including WP Developers, AamarPay, Sheraspace, and a long list of other prominent companies with the service. The company says it continues to receive strong demand from the market. 

It is an interesting idea. There has been a growing micro-trend where people and businesses send groceries as gifts to their friends and family and customers and employees. Green Grocery has managed to build an early lead in the vertical with its grocery as a gift service.

Green Grocery grows up, experiences strong demand
Packages of GG's Grocery as a gift product

Monthly grocery subscription and packages 

Green Grocery launched a grocery subscription product later in 2021. The product allows customers to automate their monthly grocery shopping. 

Although grocery subscription is quite a popular idea in many markets, it is a relatively new idea in Bangladesh. The monthly grocery subscription service did not do as well. However, it has potential. The company says it has learned from the experience and plans to double down on the product in the coming days.

Green Grocery has been selling “packages” for a while. Packages are yet another attempt on its part to productize various grocery services. Packages are a combo of different related products for meal times and specialty. 

Previously, the company sold various packages such as Good Morning Combo, Jhotpot Snacks Combo, Essence of Sylhet, and so on. 

Packages and customization are something Green Grocery plans to play around with, eventually allowing customers to make their packages. Selling packages is beneficial. Delivering a single product is expensive whereas selling a bundle is convenient logistically and profitable economically. 

WP Developers is a regular customer of GG's Grocery as a gift
WP Developers is a regular customer of GG's Grocery as a gift

A balanced strategic direction

Safe food brands are generally expensive, which limits the reach of these products to a small group of customers. 

Companies that sell these products say that it is expensive to produce and distribute safe food products and that customers should support these brands so that they can scale, eventually lowering prices. 

Green Grocery positions itself between affordable and premium, an underserved market by the existing players. 

The company identifies an opportunity between these two extremes and thinks a reasonable price, excellent quality, and customer service can aid it in building a sustainable market position. 

Green Grocery is a young company — just two years old. 

The team has been working hard to understand the market — surveying customers, and available brands to understand why people buy safe food. The company understands that it is not bringing anything new. The idea of safe food has been around for a long time. 

The company stresses the point that it ensures quality and plans to build a strong brand identity around it. 

On the part of community building, it has been investing in building a customer community. As part of the effort, it has launched several educational cooking tutorials featuring prominent cooking experts. It plans to expand the effort in the coming days by building an offline community. Community has become a critical piece of modern retail, the company plans to build a community around safe food.  

To gain trust, it has created a host of consumer-friendly protocols. A flexible return and refund policy — customers can return products within 3 days — reinforces trust. Customer service often gets higher priority across operations. 

A package of GG's Grocery as a gift product (2)
A package of GG's Grocery as a gift product

Safe food has experienced phenomenal growth over the years in Dhaka. The growth has attracted strong competition and fragmented the market. A majority of the players will eventually die. The ones that will survive have to survive using the power of relentless experimentation and innovation.

Green Grocery has been consistent in experimenting throughout its three years lifespan. The company has consistently launched new initiatives and products. 

Not all of its initiatives did well. Some of them have failed. Others have performed averagely. Only a handful of experiments have resulted in blockbuster results. But that’s the nature of innovation. 

It is a long-tail game. You try a lot of things and eventually land somewhere. The more experiments you run, your chance grows. It is also a more sound strategy to thrive in a competitive market. 

If Green Grocery can create a model out of its consistent experimentation and follow it doggedly, it is likely to continue to find hit products like Grocery as a gift. 

Mohammad Ruhul Kader is a Dhaka-based entrepreneur and writer. He founded Future Startup, a digital publication covering the startup and technology scene in Dhaka with an ambition to transform Bangladesh through entrepreneurship and innovation. He writes about internet business, strategy, technology, and society. He is the author of Rethinking Failure. His writings have been published in almost all major national dailies in Bangladesh including DT, FE, etc. Prior to FS, he worked for a local conglomerate where he helped start a social enterprise. Ruhul is a 2022 winner of Emergent Ventures, a fellowship and grant program from the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. He can be reached at ruhul@futurestartup.com

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