Designing Roadmaps for Maturing Online Grocery Startups

Online Grocery has been part of my growth throughout my carrier
1 Own Grocery Delivery: 2010( Early Stage )
2.UK Grocery:2014 (Market Leader Stage )
3. Design & Manage: Bigbasket 2017–2019 (maturing stage )

This article is my collective experience of capturing the thin grey line which converts Business Number to Product Features. This case study is specifically about why & how we went about making some crucial decision in our Product roadmap balancing both Users & Business Economics

Trying to find the Balance

Balance of product management

Product balance is what every PM dreams for and I am sure that each of us have our own version. Especially, for a growing online supermarket with a minimum of 15,000 SKUs, 500 plus product category, Diverse Pricing structures ranging from $0.15 to $500 achieving Product Balance is extremely difficult.

What kind of complexities can you expect?

1. The diverse SKU
2. The natural difference from any other online store /marketplace( such as Electronics or Fashion) which makes it completely different from others
3. The Beginners Struggle ( red ocean )
4. Geo issues
5. 400 +Product and combo offers
6. 200 + Discounts promos

With all the above complexities in hand, arriving at a stable process to design a stable product roadmap is quite difficult. Usually, I try keeping it simple and later add more perspectives to it.

Initial Product Management Process

Perspectives can vary from Business units, Consumers, Influencers, Customer Supports, Product Unit marketers, Platform Architects, UX researchers; hear it out and finally find your own product voice in the balance.

Episode 1: Business & The art of Happy Unit Economics on Maturing stage

Usually, Requirements would always start from the business, and it aims not to build a feature but achieve a business goal. In terms of online grocery, it is a topline game so there is a constant aspiration to increase the revenue.

For example, Bigbasket (the online supermarket store) the goal was to organically increase ABV ACV ( without any deep discounting)

Problem Statement: Increase ABV & ACV as well as reduce new customer churn within the limits of Organic grounds.

So we found out some areas of improvement which we tried to achieve in terms of unit economics.

1. Sell more New Brand Product (margins are high)
2. Sell more Private labels (margins are high)
3.Improve Customers Order Value
4.Improve Customer Order count per month
5. Improve the LTV of a customers
6. Reduce Churn of any new customers

In the Mature stage, the spend is kept under control without any deep discounts or huge marketing spends. So we narrow down to the unit economics level. The Challenge with maturing online groceries is to achieve something within the limits of the product and not using Marketing spend or Deep discounts spend.

Episode 2: What Customer Want

Qualitative: Conduct user research, survey and contextual inquiry with the help of the user research team and find shopping patterns. For consumers, it’s all about how well they can relate to the system without any confusion. Try to capture how customers buy in a supermarket or any offline store.

A consumer journey map is not assumed, it is the outcome of Feild research and observation done

Quantitative: The current data of the platform will guide you about your audience and understand them in a better way.
Usually, for consumers of an online supermarket, the order quantity would be higher compared to the other general e-commerce and marketplace (electronics or fashion or even opticals).

We found that the First-time consumer visits PD page and that’s where to want to focus along with

Take away from User Research
In nutshell,
1. The add to cart on listing page is the subconscious buying one does.
2. The PD page is the research page one does before buying the product either by examining the back of a product package or even a tomato.
3. Most of the users feel that their first time experience to be a guiding factor but they churn out if their experience turns out bad.
4. Post-order experience in most of the platform has not been great.
5. Customer happiness and support has to be concentrated on.

Episode 3: Balance of SKU’s & the Marketing Economics

Identify areas of improvements from user Research, Unit metrics and Marketing spend.

In Maturing stage the
1. Marketing spend are kept on control
2. Deep discounts are avoided
3. Operational cost becomes constant
Most importantly, Customer acquisition cost and retention cost is manipulated.

Online Businesses do Spend detox on a regular basis for the following reasons,
To finds the actual retaining customers, there is a myth that more than
70 % of grocery customers choose online only for discounts. And also CAC( Customer Acquisition Cost) is 6- 7 times higher than CRC( Customer Retention Cost).

The moment your curve you achieve Base profit Margine that’s when your business turns Scalable and profitable and in turn, becomes a disrupting startup

The Roadmap

So finally we decided to start building

  1. Product Page
  2. Product Recommendations
  3. Better post-order experience ( Thank you page, Order assistant )
  4. Self-support system
  5. Better basket page
  6. Better checkout
  7. Internal and External trigger system
  8. Listing page experience

The Conclusion

Know your value add. I’ve seen three main PM archetypes: engineer turned PM, designer turned PM, and businessperson turned PM. As a member of the latter bucket, I recognize that I could never out-engineer an engineer or out-design a designer. Instead, I leverage my knowledge of our business and customers to better prioritize what features make it onto the roadmap and help my team understand why we’re building those features.”
– Lauren Chan Lee, Director of Product Management at

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