Grocery shopping is most people’s least favorite chore. Making the lists, going to the store, and then discovering half of what you need is out of stock makes me want to give up on shopping altogether. So I was pleasantly surprised when online grocery store started popping up, providing convenient solutions to major urban areas.
The problem? A lack of variety. Pretty much the same issue I face in a regular grocery store of not being able to buy everything I need under one (online) roof. The reason for this is pretty obvious, a lot of our daily use products are imported and not every grocery store will stock products that don’t have high turnover. This includes coffee, chocolates, imported cleaning products (such as Cif), and even dairy brands like Prema.
It makes me wonder who the target market is. The range of products available on each site are more suited towards middle-class families that want to buy local products, but I don’t see this demographic shopping online as enthusiastically as the slightly higher-income professionals who live in urban areas.
Still, here is a round-up of the major online grocery stores that provide services in Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad.
Islamabad only, with information on areas covered here.
We’ve covered SmartMart on PakWired before, and they offer extensive options for payment to customers and have a decent range of products. I wish someone would show them how to optimize their product photos so they aren’t blurry, but that’s just me nit-picking.
Once again, the frozen food section includes only K&N. It’s interesting to note that K&N not only has a store on every corner in Islamabad and Rawalpindi, they also offer their own home delivery service. Maybe only grocery stores need to catch on and start selling other brands, who maybe don’t have these options yet?
The usual suspects are available, companies like Nestle, Unilever, P&G have most of their products listed, as do the soft drink companies and snack brands like Lays. The store offers same day delivery as long as you order before 6 PM, but have delivery charges of Rs. 500 for orders under Rs. 5000 and Rs. 200 for anything over that.
What kind of Karachi-based grocery store doesn’t carry Slims? I think that says a lot about the variety of products available on RashanLelo. Beyond the obvious options, such as products by Nestle, Fauji, Shan, Bisconni, Coke, Lipton etc, you don’t really have any out of the ordinary items available. Not surprising, since all the other stores on this list have the same issue – a lack of variety. Payment options include only cash on delivery, and you have to order a minimum of Rs. 5000 worth of groceries. This shouldn’t be much of an issue as long as you order your groceries once a month, or order things in bulk.
Lahore only. Coverage map here.
When you click on the “Vaseline” tag on a grocery store website, and find out they don’t stock the petroleum jelly synonymous with the brand, it’s hard not to be disappointed. This is a product that every store in the city will probably carry, but your online grocery store doesn’t stock it. Why exactly would I shop with you if you don’t carry the basics?
That aside, if you live in Lahore and want the most basic groceries delivered to your home, Doorstep.pk is at your service. Interestingly, they offer the option of paying via Paypal – a service not available in Pakistan. You can also choose to pay cash on delivery or via bank transfer/credit card.
Lahore and Karachi. You can choose your preferred AaramShop here.
AaramShop is not your average online store. Instead of directly completing orders through warehouses, they make local grocery stores (called Aaram Shops) a part of their network and these stores deliver the products to you.
Once you sign up, you choose your local Aaram Shop. This is the store all your orders will be transmitted to, and the people you will be paying at the end of the day. This means that you’re paying cash on delivery, and if your local Aaram Shop allows for credit and debit card payments, then that’s your luck. This also means that service across the two cities might be varied. Customer experience dependent on your chosen Aaram Shop, and how well that vendor completes the order.
The FAQs also make it clear that it is possible certain stores will not be stock and that either an alternative will be sent or the amount removed from your bill. While I can’t speak for everyone else, the convenience of shopping online is largely the fact that you will be able to buy everything from one store instead of having to drive around to multiple locations. Placing an order and then discovering when the delivery guy arrives that even two things are missing means you’ll end up having to go to your local grocery store, killing the point of ordering groceries online.
That’s not all. The product range, while pretty decent and featuring most locally available products, is by no means exhaustive. A lot of imported products aren’t available, like cheese, coffee, and even some locally available milk brands. This is by no means a one-stop online shop for your grocery needs, as you’ll definitely find a few of your favorite brands missing.
In conclusion, I can’t see myself turning to online grocery shopping any time soon. For one, none of them have any pet food options, which is a large part of my grocery runs as the owner of three pets. That is the one thing I would love to be able to order online, yet cannot find a solution for.
A lot of imported products are also not available online. I’d be willing to pay a slightly higher price for them if a store decided to stock them, as the convenience of shopping without leaving home is undeniable. Till that happens, I guess I have to keep going to the multiple stores I currently frequent to buy all my groceries.
Which online grocery store did I miss? Do you have different opinions? Did you order groceries online and have something to share? Please comment and let me know!