Virus lockdowns continue to disrupt life. While the country returned to near normalcy after weeks of shutdown, new ‘smart’ lockdowns – introduced in many areas to cut the swift spread of the pandemic – are still keeping many people inside their houses and businesses closed.
Where people can go out easily, the fears of getting the virus still loom. But, while there are things for which stepping out of the safety of the house is inescapable, there are many errands that can be avoided by using digital solutions, of which there’s no dearth today.
As supply chains remain disrupted, one trip can turn into many because it’s now hard to find all the things under one roof as was the case before. Plus, with the outdoors feeling increasingly unsafe, people are using online shopping solutions more now than they ever did. This shift in demand has opened new opportunities for tech businesses.
Emerging from a sea of online grocery shopping and delivery apps is OctoberNow. In just two months since the launch, OctoberNow’s orders have grown 100% month-on-month. With over 34,000 downloads on the Google Play store, the app has gotten a great start.
There are many things that set the app apart from the rest currently available on the market. But the fundamental difference is that OctoberNow does not have its own stock. Instead, it picks up the product from existing stores in the area from where the customer has ordered, and delivers to their doorstep.
How this makes a difference is more important. First, the customers can choose to buy from their favorite stores in the area which have been onboarded to OctoberNow. Second, it also allows customers to maintain their loyalty to their neighborhood shops. In this way, the app not only promotes local business, but also strengthens their bond with the customers.
Another important difference is the ability of customers to compare prices and choose a product that best fits their budgets. Besides, being able to compare prices of the same or similar products from different stores around them is also bound to rationalize rates while maintaining a healthy competition.
On top of these is the app’s ‘Mera Pakistan’ feature that lists and promotes only locally manufactured goods. Grocery stores in Karachi are generally known to be bursting with imported products, but this feature allows customers to easily sift through local products at the best prices, with the satisfaction of knowing they are contributing to Pakistan’s economy.
“Our vision for OctoberNow is to break into retail groceries of Pakistan and make them digital, integrated, and for everyone,” shares Irfan Fazli, founder of OctoberNow. “Platforms like Daraz, Careem, and Foodpanda created new niche markets in Pakistan and have retained their success and pushed it into the long term – this is what every service of this sort launched in Pakistan aims to do,” he adds.
The customer ratings for OctoberNow have remained steady at just slightly below 5 full stars. For Fazli, the startup’s customer care staff has had a huge role to play in this success. “With customer service representatives active virtually round-the-clock, products can be returned with no questions asked, and delivery takes a maximum of 2 hours with a range of over six thousand products from 15 local stores.”
But, things were not always perfect for OctoberNow. It was also prone to lockdown disruptions that sometimes extended the promised 1-2 hour delivery to up to 4 hours. “If it’s going to take 4 hours for delivery, that begs the question, why not just go do the groceries myself?,” says Fazli.
Plus, the same day delivery cannot take place after a certain time, so it might be too early to say farewell to those late-night grocery runs. But now, things are changing for the better for OctoberNow.
Currently operating in Karachi, OctoberNow expects a steady expansion to other parts of the country soon. As it’s a relatively new project, the next few months will define what the company is capable of and whether or not it lives up to the promises that it makes.
To download the OctoberNow app from the Google Play store, click here.