We speak to Jarrar Shah, entrepreneur & CEO of 24Seven.Pk about his inspiration and journey towards setting up online grocery shopping in Pakistan:
What is your background?
I started my career as a financial and business development consultant at our family’s firm and grew to focus on becoming a serial entrepreneur.
Where did the inspiration behind 24SEVEN.pk stem from?
It came from the pain I felt as a progressive farmer in our agriculture markets or mandis as they are called. There’s no incentive for the farmer to grow better quality produce as the mandi would fetch the same price for an A grade produce as it would for a D grade one. I remember I grew okra in the off season which would be selling for over 100
rupees per Kg in Main Market, Gulberg and I’d get only 5 rupees per Kg in the mandi. So I set out to create a platform whereby we could get produce from the farmers direct to the customer, thus, aiding benefit to both the farmer and the customer. Along the way we added grocery to our product offering as we saw a huge gap in the
market. Either there were big supermarkets, the likes of Al Fatah or Jalal Sons or really small khokhas, so access to modern grocery was out of reach for a large number of urban consumers.
Convenience shopping is a game changer post COVID-19, has it been overwhelming to manage?
We are the pioneers for online grocery in Lahore. We recognized the gap in the market for providing convenience, and COVID 19 just highlighted the need for this overnight. To be honest, it has been super challenging. These are really tough and uncertain times for everyone, and with us, we experienced a tremendous surge overnight, literally. In late March and in the April days leading upto Ramzan, we were exponentially expanding our operations and team. Simultaneously we had to implement strict health and safety measures in regard to COVID 19, both for our customers and team members.
As a result, there were delays in orders, which had never happened to us before. Internationally we saw these delays up to a month for basic groceries but we were determined to make the best of it. We worked hard to manage them within 10 days, of course this was incredibly challenging. We did the absolute best we could with stretched
resources, by and large we received great feedback and support and managed to get into a position where we could again offer the convenience of same day delivery to the majority of our customers. Today, our customer base is growing rapidly and so is our team strength. I feel really proud that we have managed to and are continuing to add lots of jobs that are critical to so many of our fellow citizens in these tough times.
Do you think you would like to extend 24SEVEN.pk to other cities?
Absolutely. Our plan is to be nationwide and you shall soon see us expanding outside
What are some of the biggest challenges you feel like customers face while shopping online?
I think trust is the biggest issue. Most customers are skeptical; they start off with a feeling of dread thinking it might all be a scam. Offering both cash on delivery and credit card options we are happy to have a strong recurring customer base having gained their trust for years. For some, getting used to ordering online can be challenging initially. Though I can tell you it only takes 3 tries or so to get the hang of it for those. We take constant feedback
and try and make it easier and more seamless all the time. Culturally many of us are used to seeing and feeling the produce before buying. For those people buying online requires a leap of faith as well. We have measures in place
to help those customers too with novel techniques. We have an easy, customer friendly return & refund policy too.
Finally, for those who order late or want things in a heartbeat waiting even a few hours can be a test of patience so we have introduced convenient time slots. You can choose when to receive your order based on your convenience. This makes the waiting game easier knowing when you’ll be expecting your order and knowing if you’ll get it in time
for your immediate need. Transparency and clear communication have utmost importance for us.
How is 24SEVEN.pk different from other players in the market?
We are a mission driven organization. We want to create something meaningful for
Pakistan, and we want to help our farmer and our customer. That happy marriage is key to our organisation.
We want transparency, convenience and 100% customer satisfaction. We have many miles to go before we can even come close to where we want to get to. We won’t rest until we do. Our operations are customer centric, saying one is customer centric is easy, actually being one 100% of the times is another thing. You can have 95% perfect orders
but if something goes wrong with 5%, guess what? Many of those 5% will rightfully rake your brand over the coals. So organizationally we want to instill in ourselves that mindset to learn and improve daily. At the end of the day we believe it’s this attitude that will actually make the difference and set us apart.
Where do you see the online grocery shopping industry going in Pakistan?
Grocery is huge, so the online space will naturally also grow to be quite big. The industry is bound to grow rapidly with lots of new opportunistic players getting in, which is great as it will increase the overall market size.
However, not all players will or can succeed. Like all industries, a learning curve is required and those who can afford to learn quickly and still have money in the kitty to apply those lessons will do well. Others may find out they’ve bitten off more than they could chew.
What are your future plans for 24SEVEN.pk?
We have embarked on establishing a solid base and business model which will form the basis of rapid nationwide expansion. COVID 19 has provided a great boost to our plans which were already underway. In the near term we are working fervently on adding features that will make our customer experience even more convenient plus expanding
our outreach into more cities of Pakistan. We are also on-boarding local farmers now, so soon our goal of having a farm to fork platform is getting closer as well.