A vegetable shop at Vikrampuri, Secunderabad, is known to almost every regular passerby, irrespective of whether one buys vegetables there or not. This, despite not even having a nameboard. Those who shop at this shack simply call it ‘Ailaya’s shop’, after the owner, Ailaya Kamala. Now, this 30-year-old shop has an app called ‘Subgwala – Online Vegetables Store’ through which it delivers vegetables to customers across the city.
Representative screenshots from Subgwala app
The increasing demand and popularity of Ailaya’s shop prompted his sons to dive into e-commerce. Members of Secunderabad Club are regulars customers, as are buyers who come from as far as Yapral and Kapra, around nine kilometres away. The reason for Ailaya’s popularity is the fresh produce that is much sought after, especially in times when health is in sharp focus. Such is the demand here that even the temperature-controlled vegetable racks at the upmarket supermarket just a few steps away from it, haven’t lured regular buyers away from his vegetables kept fresh with wet gunny sack sheets.
Ailaya’s eldest son Ashok Kamala, a B.Com Honors graduate, decided to make this shift to reach out to customers across the city. Ashok who is currently running the business as his father is busy with a family wedding, says, “We decided to go online with ‘Subgwala’. Since I’ve seen the business grow, I understood a lot of customer concerns and choices. I gave my inputs to the app developers on how I wanted the app to look. We have customers who come to us looking for specific seasonal vegetables that are not commonly consumed. Over the years we have learnt grading and selection depending on customers’ demand.”
The new normal
The family-run vegetable shop that is always busy with customers is functioning with the new normal of social distancing owing to the pandemic. “During the lockdown our customers were not able to buy our vegetables because the shop was closed. The growers we buy from were also suffering. So we used the lockdown period to work on the app design, look and execution,” explains Ashok, adding that a important criteria for the design was ‘user friendly’ — especially for senior citizens.
The family spent ₹7 lakh to get the app designed but are pleased they made about two-thirds of the money within five days of its launch. “Right now, we are personally delivering the vegetables. We plan to get vegetable trucks and are looking for a storage facility as well. We want to maintain the same quality that one gets at our store. With increasing number of customers, parked vehicles in front of our store are causing inconvenience. We want to make it easy for our customers and help to ease the traffic as well,” he laughs.
So does that mean it’ll be curtains for the shop at Vikrampuri? “That will never happen, we will run the shop too, and use it as the centre point to dispatch orders,” says Ashok.
The free-to-use app is currently available via APKPure and Google Play Store for Android users. The iOS app will be soon made available on App Store.