With onions bringing tears to the eyes of consumers as prices soar as high as Rs.70 per kg in the country, online grocery marts still seem to sell this essential commodity at a rate less than the market. So, how are these digital platforms unaffected by the market?
For one of the largest players among online platforms, localbanya.com, avoiding middlemen is the key to keeping their price of onions on the lower side.
On the website, one can buy a kilogram of onions at Rs.49.92 - but pay Rs.49 extra for delivery if the order does not add up to Rs.500 - as against the current market price of Rs.65 and above. However, for those buying vegetables on weekly basis, this still works our cheaper.
Rashi Chowdhary, co-founder of localbanya.com, said: "We have tentative bookings done earlier which helps us estimate the number of orders we have per day, reducing any wastage of perishable goods like onions."
"We source our onions or other vegetables directly from the wholesale agricultural markets, but we cut down on many middlemen and godowns for storage as we buy our vegetables fresh every day. This allows us to cut costs for the customer and keep the produce on offer fresh," Chowdhary told IANS.
As per Agmarknet, an initiative of the agriculture ministry, the pan-India wholesale price of normal-sized onion was Rs.5,000 per quintal and Rs.6,800 per quintal for the large-sized ones.
While for Aaditya Goyal, who co-founded the few months old Delhi-NCR-based bigzop.com, sourcing produce directly from farmers has done the trick to lure his customers with relatively lower prices than the market.
"On a daily basis, we source our onions, potatoes, tomatoes and other vegetables directly from the farmers around the city. That way our prices are not dependent on the market," Goyal told IANS.
With no stores to maintain, the firm saves multiple-fold on infrastructure costs, he said.
"The savings on infrastructure allow us to pass the savings to our customers through lowered prices. With vegetables and fruits being perishables, daily sourcing also cuts down on waste due to damage," Goyal added.
Bigzop.com as on Friday, was selling onions at Rs.51.30 per kg, with no minimum order amount required.
Then, Avneesh Kumar Yadav of farmsbazaar.com priced onions at his online store at Rs. 49 per kg.
"Sourcing directly from the farmers, helps both the farmers and the consumers. Consumers can get products at a cheaper price while farmers don't have to lose out their money to middlemen," Yadav told IANS.
The rise in the price of this cooking essential from Rs.25 till a few weeks ago to Rs.65 and above, has affected the sale of onions, said local mandi (market) sellers, and vegetable-cart pullers.
Sanjeev Yadav, an onion-seller in south Delhi's Malviya Nagar Market, said: People have stopped buying as many onions as they used to in the previous weeks. Many prefer not buying onions at all. If this continues, my stock will just rot."
Yadav added that the daily stock he gets from Nasik has not reached him for the past few days.
According to the latest study by Nasik-based National Horticultural Research and Development Foundation (NHRDF), market prices of onions are expected to be on the higher side till September-end.
The reason, the study pointed out, was fresh kharif onion arrivals were expected only from mid-October from Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra and there is no harvest of onions in the country till October.
The Foundation expected the prices to come down by the end of October.