• By: Eric Murphy

Skip the Grocery Lines with SmartKart

If you’re like me, the worst part of putting together any meal is finding that impossible-to-find ingredient at the grocery store. Whether it’s coconut milk for a curry, tahini for hummus, or an obscure brick of cheese for that French onion soup, digging through piles and getting lost in the aisles is an ordeal.

Fortunately, Karan Khanna knows your pain. Frustrated by grocery shopping’s inconvenience and wondering if others felt the same, he started SmartKart in Ottawa earlier this year to bring groceries straight to customers’ doors.

“Let’s face it, today people are super busy,” says Khanna, SmartKart’s CEO and co-founder. “The hardest part about cooking is not the actual cooking. It’s the going out and grocery shopping.”

Khanna argues that his company makes an easy and healthy alternative to waiting in grocery lines or ordering fast food.

SK shopper
One of SmartKart’s personal shoppers.

Once you’ve signed up for SmartKart, you can look in their ‘pantry’ to see a long list of available grocery store items with up-to-date prices. Once you’ve chosen what you need, you go to their checkout and choose what date and time you want the food brought to your home.

“The quickest time that you can get is two hours,” Khanna says. This means that for many commuters, you could order your food a few minutes before you leave work and it should show up not long after you’ve settled into your couch back home.

When you place the order, it’s transferred to one of SmartKart’s personal shoppers who goes to the best store location and picks up what you need. They’re also trained to call the customer if there’s an issue with the order. For example, if the customer wanted royal gala apples but all the ones the store has are looking a little haggard, the personal shopper will let them know. All the shopper needs get started with SmartKart is a car, a smartphone, and some training. A love of grocery shopping doesn’t hurt either.

“Think of SmartKart as Uber for groceries,” Khanna says.

So far, SmartKart offers products from Loblaws, Costco, and the LCBO, but Khanna is working on expanding their partnerships. He’s in the process of adding Walmart to SmartKart’s digital inventory, and finding ways to offer more local and organic options. Khanna is even looking into expansions into other cities, and has already secured two partnerships in Montreal.

So far, SmartKart’s customers seem to come from all walks of life, from seniors with less mobility, to single parents in a hurry to students. Whether SmartKart is someone’s weekly shopping staple, or just something to fall back on when your day runs long, it’s easy to see why people are so interested in this time-saving alternative to the traditional grocery run.

You can find out more about SmartKart on their website.