Striking the gender balance and Swiggy’s recipe for success

Our Bureau Chennai | Updated on February 18, 2020

Vivek Sunder, COO, Swiggy, in Chennai, on Tuesday   -  Bijoy Ghosh

“Good decisions come from experience and experience comes from bad decisions,” goes a famous old saying.

Perhaps, for Vivek Sunder, his two-decade experience with Procter & Gamble (P&G) is helping him make good decisions in his current role. Sunder is currently the Chief Operating Officer of India’s leading online food delivery platform, Swiggy.

In 1999, Sunder, an IIM-Calcuta alumnus, visited Gangaganj village in Lucknow as part of a menstrual hygiene campaign organised by P&G.

During a survey, most of the girl students who attended menstrual classes conducted by Whisper brand, said that they would spend time helping their mothers after school hours.

About 11 years later, in 2010, Sunder returned to the same school. But this time, the response of the students was different.

Different responses

While watching TV or playing with friends was the common response, none of the girls said they were helping their mothers. “Those girls grow up and come to Bengaluru but they don’t know how to cook - which is good for our business,” said Sunder, evoking loud cheers and laughter at The Dynamics of Disruption, an event organised by FICCI Ladies Organization (FLO) here on Tuesday.

Taking a serious note, Sunder said, “The point is not that they don’t know how to cook but that they are working and have meaningful careers so they can’t spend sitting behind the kitchen. That is the larger point.”

Sunder also added that in 2014, 80 per cent of Swiggy’s business came from young boys but today it is split between males and females in the 55-45 ratio. “They may not know how to cook but that’s not their primary role in the house. This trend is increasing and that’s why we need to have solutions,” Sunder said.

In 2014, Swiggy started in one city with three delivery boys and hundreds of orders. Today, it is present in 550 cities supported by 3,00,000 delivery boys and crores of orders.

Noting that food delivery is not new in India, Sunder said although restaurants had delivery service, the business didn’t take off due to issues like absence of customer service and non-availability of delivery persons.

“Unless you solve all these issues at once, you’ll never get to the inflection point. You have to use modern technologies and operations of the day to resolve the problems,” said Sunder.

“If I (Swiggy) were not to keep the delivery experience in-house, which means I would not control the delivery, the business will never really take off,” the COO added.

He also highlighted how the online food delivery platform created categories of customers by breaking barriers such as minimum order value requirements, expanding celebratory occasions and re-activation of dormant customers.

Published on February 18, 2020

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