Musing #32: Milk Online (Sarda Farms)

Ordering milk online directly from the farm isn't as preposterous now as it would have been half a decade back. With the digital revolution having superseded the white revolution, it was simply a matter of time. When I received a pamphlet from Sarda Farms about direct to home delivery, I couldn't resist subscribing to it. I would like to think of myself as a digital pioneer of sorts, having jumped straight in to every digital service on inception. After all, I can't imagine many Indians purchasing stuff online in the past century and yet I started off purchasing online at a time when there wasn't much digital infrastructure to speak of in this country.

Most of the times, when I receive a pamphlet with a phone number on it, I expect a sparse, showcase online presence. Hence, I was presently surprised to see a fully equipped online ordering portal on the website. Moreover, there are decently designed Android and iOS apps available in the respective stores that allow you to adjust every aspect of your subscription, from delivery planning to delivery mode and renewals. It is not to say that there aren't any design or functionality issues. For example, the dashboard giving an overview of the remaining quantity on the website is sadly missing on the iOS app whose Home tab is simply a replication of the menu options. Similarly, the option to enter a promo code is missing from the app which shows a lack of anticipation for future offers. But it is very encouraging to see such a robust digital presence from a nascent service fulfilling basic requirements.

The true test of a service comes up when something unexpected occurs and demands flexibility from the provider. This happened to me when I inadvertently set a schedule (6 litres/week) which accounted for 27 litres over a 30 calendar day period, thereby omitting me from taking advantage of their free offer of 30 litres for new users (which required a minimum order of 30 litres). As I had already made the payment, I regretted at having missed out on the offer. However, on contacting their customer care, I was surprised to get a fully empathetic response whereby they sent me a link to pay for the remaining 3 litres, following which I had a total of 60 litres credited to my account. Speaking of customer care, I received a response within a couple of hours over email, app and within a minute over the phone.

I suppose I shouldn't be too surprised considering that there are so many turnkey IT solutions available now-a-days. For example, I can see that their payment services are being offered by EBS on account of which it looks professional from the get-go. Even then, this is an exception rather than a rule. Too many products and services launch with a shoddy implementation which leaves a poor first and consequently last impression.

Having spoken of the digital presence, I now await the physical delivery of the goods which is slated to start a fortnight later. 15 days is a long lead time but I suppose that is excusable, for last-mile logistics is always a difficult proposition. It is certainly not a cheap proposition at Rs. 90/litre, though the new user offer softens the blow by bringing it more or less on par with market prices. To add to the bargain, I managed to get free samples of all their curd offerings along with my first milk delivery which should allow me to form a better opinion of the brand as a whole. Till then, I can only hope that the milk is of the same ilk as the digital setup.

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