Building a technology first company

Building a technology first company

Over the past few years, we have seen rise of tech companies. There are a lot of definitions of what truly is a technology company. There are also different terminologies like “tech driven”, “tech enabled” and “pure tech”. And the debate goes on…

At Grofers, our vision is to be a technology first company. For us, technology is at the centre of everything that Grofers does for the best experience a customer can get. While what we sell is Grocery, our app and the technology fueling it is the core of our business.

As a tech first company, we have 4 key technology tenets that help us achieve this.

People

Our people are our biggest asset. Its said a lot but we truly live this on a daily basis. This mantra transpires into everything we do.

Engineering culture: Engineering Culture at Grofers is deep rooted in Agile and Lean philosophies. We take pride in the values and principles we live by, condensed into a Founder’s mindset almanac. Leadership at Grofers focuses on team autonomy and it’s DNA is built from bottom-up. Initiatives and structures like chapters, steering committee, design jams, quarterly hackathons, etc. help us imbibe these values in-and-out. We also actively contribute to blogs, conferences, meetups and other community related initiatives.

DevOps: We believe in autonomous teams that take end-to-end responsibility of delivering business results which includes not only building features but also quality, performance, infrastructure, security and cost. We do all this by following a shift-left culture and investing heavily in automation and self-serve platforms. CI/CD, containerisation, configuration management, automated testing, sophisticated release processes (such as blue-green, canary and feature flagging) enable us to ship software confidently multiple times in a day.

Data & AI

We are obsessed about our customers. We want to understand them better to serve them better. Our customer data platform (CDP) captures user’s actions on our platform, to create a 360 degree view of our customers to drive personalisation and segmentation.

The in-house event pipeline captures, processes and stores more than 15 Billion events every month for these users

  1. Differentiated Experiences: We have built a deep understanding of our customers based on their demographics and behavioural attributes. Our data Ability to create audiences on the fly and differentiate experience for our customers leveraging our internal martech stack
  2. Relevant Advertising : Provide brands capability to advertise their products to relevant customers based on the consumers past purchase behaviour and intent. Our data also gives us the ability to provide brands with deeper insights on their advertising spends.
  3. Personalised Recommendations : Our machine learning jobs process these events to identify product associations and buying patterns of our customers to generate over 500 million recommendations on a daily basis. Our top used personalised widgets like ‘Recommend For You’ and ‘Previously bought’ drive ~10% of the sales on our platform
  4. AI driven supply chain: We have built a robust demand forecasting system which ensures the right product is available at the right place. We use GIS (Geographical Information System) so as to ensure our supply chain is optimised for not just for our customers but for our delivery team as well. It allows us to do anomaly detection for addresses, intelligent service boundary management and optimised routes for timely order delivery using state of the art time window and capacity constrained vehicle routing. We have also built effort estimation models for order processing in the warehouse to manage capacities in real time as well as for manpower planning.
  5. Business Health Monitoring : Ability to real time monitor platform health metrics, dig deep into conversion funnels and proactively fixing stuff.

Innovation

We love to innovate and innovate fast; so much so that we have an innovation hub. Our product and engineering folks come together for immersive and rapid innovation every month.

The intent is continuous learning through success and failure

Innovation Hub: While we focus on continuous improvement we also work towards disruptive innovation. Our innovation engineers work with the principle of “Fail fast, Fail often and Fail conclusively”. They run at least 1 big experiment in a month, with multiple variants of this run every week. From supply chain management to consumer insights this team focuses on growth, disruptive delivery, cost and customer engagement. Few projects driven by this team include WH-in-WH, inventory rebalancing, hawker’s experiment, RWA deliveries etc…

Rapid Experimentation & Agility

In order to truly innovate you have be comfortable with moving fast. It’s like changing the wheels of a car while you are driving it.

  1. A/B Testing: Through our feature-flagging system, we are always running multiple A/B tests simultaneously at any point in time. This allows us to release with confidence and boldness, yet be humbled to discover counter-intuitive insights about our users that no one could have predicted.
  2. Frequent releases & short feedback loop: We believe in releasing any day, any time and as rapidly as we can. Our innovation is backed by a robust release pipeline which allows us to experiment and keep learning about our customers and business. Our low-code/no-code platforms allow all functions not just product tech to experiment and be agile

Intelligent Automation

We apply service orientated approach to everything and not just what gets put in front of our customers. Most of our systems are built as platforms providing intelligent automation that allows business operation teams to focus their energies on creative work.

Intelligent automation allows business teams to focus singularly on value creation for customer

  1. Pricing: We provide tools to our sellers so that they can price with full confidence and have all the data intelligence & information to guide them price competitively.
  2. Monetisation: Apart from data-driven ROI on all spends based on exact views and click-throughs, our new bidding platform allows brands to compete in real-time and helps us arrive at fair-value for our assets in a completely automated way. This has allowed us to more than double the share of revenue from the bidding platform in the last 6 months. We also provide intelligence to brands using our rich data to advise them on their investment strategy.
  3. Supply tech: Our technology stack gives us the flexibility to quickly react and modify the supply chain to handle the different constraints and opportunities of operational activities.


Building a technology first company was originally published in Lambda on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Source: Grofers

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