September 2016


Image Source: The National

You’d be hardpressed to find a chore as vexing (and stressful) as that of grocery shopping — especially in a city as busy as Dubai.

For many a Dubai dweller, the days are a long and stressful juggle of family, work and personal obligations. The last thing anyone wants to do after 6pm is head to a supermarket and prepare for battle - whether with a faulty-wheeled shopping trolley, an army of crying babies, or their fellow angry shoppers- to get their daily produce.
And worse yet, to endure the struggle and still forget the one item they had initially came in for.

Recognizing an unfulfilled need for a more seamless (and stress-free) grocery shopping experience, a few smart businesses have jumped at the opportunity to provide applications that would bring more quality options, more convenience, and more happiness to shoppers across the city! This interest in e-groceries is not unique to the city, with experts predicting an increase in online grocery shopping from 21% in 2015 to 34% by the end of this year.

It’s quite simple. Grab your phone. Open the app. Confirm location. Browse stores near you. Select products. Get notified when the driver is en route. Receive groceries. And all this without once having to get up from your couch!

Unlike offline grocery shopping methods (either in store, or on the phone), these online applications allow shoppers to visually browse for products, at a guaranteed price, while avoiding the hassle of queues or being put on hold.

One such service is El Grocer. Launched in January 2016, El Grocer is on-demand grocery delivery app that currently features over 200,000 products, liaises with 80 supermarkets throughout the city, and reaches over 22,000 users (as of October 2016).

Using geo-location technology and tracking APIs, shoppers can track their orders within the El Grocer app- and even start their cooking at the precise expected delivery time- adding to the convenience factor of the service. To ensure a smooth and smart service for all those involved, each El Grocer partner retailer receives a smartphone device that allows them to track customer orders, receive customer feedback, and access purchase habit data to improve their business and inventory stocks.

InstaShop is another Dubai-based, e-groceries app; one that has successfully completed a recent round of funding with investment from e-commerce giant Unlike its competitors, Instashop utilizes networks of smaller, hyperlocal mini-marts that allow it to decrease delivery time to an average of 30 minutes, and increase their hours of operation to 24 hours in some neighbourhoods.

Adding an extra layer of convenience and time-saving, Instashop further empowers its users by allowing them to schedule deliveries a few hours, days, or even months in advance.

Looking for an even more efficient solution? Cook-a-Box is a new service that allows users to select healthy meals online up to a week in advance, and delivers the pre-measured, fresh ingredients straight to their doors. By curating recipes, and portioning them appropriately, Cook-a-Box helps Dubai residents minimize the time they spend on grocery shopping, and reduces their material waste output. Smart; healthy; and environmentally friendly!

These private sector initiatives- and many more- are going over and above to deliver quality, convenience, happiness, and (of course) groceries to their users. While delivery services are nothing new to seasoned Dubai residents, we look forward to seeing more innovation in the market, and hope to see more initiatives contributing to Dubai’s smart transformation.