Every Friggin Grocery Shopping App is Broken.


There is so much money going into all these grocery startups, but i have a feeling that fundamentally the whole experience is flawed. Browsing through categories in an app is so tedious that I’d give up, if I have to do this every week over and over again.

I actually tried shopping for the list once, using Bigbasket.com – It was hopeless. I realized half the items were not available. My cook is also picky to the point of the brand of flour we use. at home my mom does the same thing. It is better not to buy at all, rather than buy a different brand.
So, I gave up and went to the grocery store. it took me far less time picking things out of a grocery store with a cart, than it did with an app. Well, caveat, I know what is where in which aisle in the grocery store by now, but I’m never able to predict what goes into what category in an app.

See, weirdly a grocery store is not categorized. If you notice closely you will realize there is a flow, it starts with ice creams, bread, eggs, milk right near the entrance (stuff that is often bought), and once you go past, its the munchies, and then the coffee stuff, leading to the pickles, leading to oil, spices, rice, grains and pulses, and the you’ll see islands where the detergents and other stuff are kept. Its like there is an invisible flow, you kinda can anticipate what comes next. You don’t hop from one aisle to another (like a category), you naturally flow into it.

The only time you look up (for category aisles) are when you are lost, or are coming to a store for the first time.

A really good grocery app – for that matter even if Flipkart goes mobile app only, has to be like that. Easy to browse, without killing us with categories and trying to make us guess. Nobody has that kind of patience.

Well, that’s a design problem. If you cant solve that, here’s a cheaper, faster, easier way to do this. Let me click the list I get from my maid and at times my mom and upload it to you. You either do magic or have people sitting there who convert it into a list and tell me price / amount. I can then add / remove things to the “basket” and check out. Imagine, me clicking and sending you a photo of a list with quantities and brands marked next to it. You can send me back a list with whatever you can recognize (I can’t guess a few things on the list at times), and suggest alternatives for what you dont have. I can quickly accept, reject, opt out and should be good to go. You don’t even keep inventory and are sourcing from nearby merchants, cant you atleast make my life easier by making the shopping list process easier rather than making me pay by putting out an app that belongs in the mid 90s?

Upsell, me on the add-ons and whats beyond the list (essentially the shelf near the cash counter when last minute tic tacs and gums are bought), cause I am quite set on those essentials and am just wasting time, browsing through categories.

Whoever gets that right, will blow all these bigbasket and peppertap fellows out of the water.

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3 Responses to “Every Friggin Grocery Shopping App is Broken.”

  1. Mridul Birla

    Many local shop in major cities are using messenger such as whatsapp for getting shopping list from customer and delivering it at their doorstep.

  2. Rabi


    I came across your blog and you raise a very good point about not categorizing grocery applications similar to the FlipKart model. It is an interesting idea to model the arrangements of products in a e-store after a grocery shop. I will certainly try that.

    I am a developer for a small online grocery website: http://www.landtokitchen.com. I am looking for ideas on making the site user friendly. While, we are a long way from reading product lists from uploaded images, I would appreciate your feedback on the design of our site. I have made the application a single page application on the browser. The product list has been made alphabetical. Maybe there can be a different approach for easy walkthrough of the products in the site for the customer?

    Thanks and regards

  3. Girish

    Very nice article and catalog by category is a terrible solution. The grocery shopping is more of a repetitive task than a locating item. After using lot of online grocery solution, I have switched back to going to grocery shop.

    My solution: I manage my grocery list using AnyList and pick it on my way from grocery which I find it more efficient for the time.

    AnyList –
    – Collect items (sync list with Wife)
    – Arrange items in group so you can pick them together
    – Shopper item – (Some item you don’t get in all shop)
    – Alternate item if it is not available
    – Add note to understand measurement or size

    Fresh items we like check and pick based on availability, so it is better to go shopping and get it the items in AnyList.

    People trying to solve the grocery shopping as eshopping a terrible idea. I am sure it can be solved from list to ordering. It makes perfect sense why Instacart in a market after big player pushing it hard on its bottom line.

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