Onion prices at a whopping ₹80-100 a kg may bring tears to the common man’s eyes but online retailers are wiping them to drive traffic to their websites.

Online retailers of fresh fruits and vegetables, including Fresh FalSabzi and BigZop, are offering onions at  ₹40-50 a kg, by subsidising them. Even auto-rickshaw aggregator Jugnoo has launched a campaign to sell and deliver onions through its platform Jugnoo Fatafat.

“We would have had to spend more on advertising and marketing than what we are spending now to subsidise the onion in order to get the same surge in traffic,” said a Mumbai-based online retailer.

Ever since the price of onions shot up across the country, the traffic to sites selling vegetables has gone up almost 150 per cent.

Samar Singla, co-founder of Jugnoo, said the company saw a 50 per cent jump in transactions/orders within a day of launch.

For the Chandigarh-based hyperlocal app, the crazy onion prices were an opportunity to create a buzz.

“We just thought of bringing relief to every kitchen, which was to just reduce the price and increase the supply,” Singla added.

“Four days into the campaign, Jugnoo is already gaining traction and now sees 1,000 transactions a day, he said, adding that consumers who never heard about Jugnoo are now talking about it.

BigZop is giving an extra 5 per cent off on the selling prices across categories along with onions. Aaditya Goyal, Founder, BigZop, said, “When prices are misbehaving, as they are now, we can take a hit ourselves. We can plan well as we have the demand charts, which help maintain the prices.” Most online players like BigZop source the vegetable directly from farmers, and as no middlemen are involved they are able to pass on the benefit to the consumers.

This strategy is, however, not new to the online players.

In 2013, when the price of this cooking essential had risen to ₹70/kg, deals site Groupon, which is now known as NearBuy, was offering the same at just ₹9/kg, a strategy that led to so much traffic that the website crashed in minutes.

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