(Online) Battle of The Indian Supermarkets

Posted by in Reviews, Thoughts

The Indian retail industry is booming and lots of snazzy supermarkets have popped up in most cities. A lot of these are either owned or have been acquired by major business houses . There are 7 such stores within the 2 km radius of my house. But since I am planning to move to a different area, I decided to look up their websites and use the store locater to find a store in the new area. But what I soon discovered was that some of these supermarkets don’t even have any official site and the only way to find a store in an area is though local classifieds (Sulekha) , local search engines (Just Dial) , Google maps and Wikimapia. But the information on these sites can be wrong or outdated and not as reliable as an official site.

This got me interested and I decided to do a comparison of the online presence of all the major players in Bangalore (and in India).

Here’s how they fared:

  • Reliance Fresh: Its one of the biggest players in the sector but surprisingly neither Fresh nor any other retail formats owned by Reliance (Footprint, Digital, Jewels, Timeout etc.) have any web presence. Just a one page summary of the company’s retail plans exists on RIL’s website. There are, however, many unofficial blogs dedicated to Reliance Retail.
  • More: Fabmall, one of the largest supermarket chains in South India, was recently acquired by Aditya Birla Group’s More making it an important player in the market but again, except for a page mentioning the launch of its first store and news articles on the aforementioned acquisition on the group’s website, nothing much can be found online.
  • Nilgiris: This South Indian chain recently acquired Daily’s supermarkets belonging to Valdel retail but I could not find company’s official website even though I found Valdel’s website.
  • Subhiksha: They do have a website and the link “Store Locators”(locators??) did get my hopes up only to be met with a “Page in Under Construction[sic]” message. I am still hopeful that someday soon, they might have a real page there.
  • Fresh@: Interestingly, the owner of this chain, Heritage Foods, has a website with a store locator but unless one knows the parent company and searches for it, there’s no way to find the website. Now that’s some bad search engine optimization (SEO) at work!
  • Food Bazaar: They have an info page on Pantaloon’s site and there’s also a common Store Locator for all formats owned by the company. Good!
  • Foodworld: They too have a website that seems alright and there is a list of all stores too but unfortunately, it is on the “Contact Us” page which is linked only in the footer.
  • Spencer’s: They have a proper website (with the useless flash intro and all) and do have a “our stores” link which works well. Its definitely the most impressive of the lot!

What this proves is that a lot of Indian companies still don’t understand the power of Internet. Sure, most people would go to the nearby supermarkets rather than search for one on the internet but I think an online presence is an important part of brand development. Let’s hope they would realize this soon enough and make amends.