It is a known fact that shopping at a DMart store can be a life-threatening experience. Which is why a guide like this is absolutely essential.
Today, shopping at DMart – the Indian chain of hypermarkets and a nightmare to local grocery shops – is an uphill task. Whatever day of the week or the time of the day or the store you choose to go shopping, you are going to meet the entire planet there. Kids and adults alike shopping like they are hoarding up for an apocalypse. And there’s no way you can have a peaceful grocery shopping experience in that mess. Unless you follow my directions.
I have shopped at DMart for the better part of my adult life, and I believe I have found the best practices that will take us as close as we can get to peaceful shopping in 2018. I can speak for all the DMart stores in Navi Mumbai and Mumbai in Maharashtra, but something tells me that these shopping tips can be adopted at stores across the nation. Here you go!
DMart Shopping Guide Basics
This guide considers the moment you enter the supermarket till the time you pay the bill and push your cart out of the exit gate. What you do before this matters but what you do after does not.
Men and women in the age group of 20-35 will be able to pull this off easily. People beyond that may find this childish and arduous. If you are one of them, feel free to spend your entire Sunday at DMart like you currently do.
You will also require basic communication (and apology feigning) skills to completely pull this off and shop for a month’s groceries within 60 minutes. This also means that this guide is best suitable for grocery shopping (DMart ground floor). I sometimes do go upstairs to buy a few odd home improvement things, but I usually do it in a jiffy so that I don’t lose my filled-up cart upon returning.
Sometimes I wish DMart really invested in their online store and made it more user-intuitive using all that money they raised through the IPO, but here we are in 2018 still queuing up with carts filled to the brim with stuff that we think is enough for the whole month until you reach home to realize that you missed the one thing you needed the most. Honey, I forgot the agarbattis!
Note – It is assumed that you know the layout of your preferred store.
A Guide to DMart Shopping in Mumbai
This guide has been developed using tactics experimented on a DMart store located in Navi Mumbai. I have divided this into four sections:
- When to go
- Navigating the aisles inside DMart
- Checking out
I have considered all the options so that everyone can make use of this guide according to their preferences. Come on now, let’s do some peaceful offline shopping at India’s largest hypermarket chain.
How you carry yourself while you go shopping is paramount to its success. Which is why you need to follow these tips carefully, no matter what.
Should You Go Alone or in a Group?
Consider going alone and taking a grocery list with you. Kids should never be taken along for reasons aplenty. The same goes for adult companions. It destroys the equilibrium needed to effectively and swiftly navigate the aisles in the third phase (see above). Wear something casual (tee, track pants, and sneakers).
Things to Carry
Don’t carry anything on you except a debit/credit card and some cash (at least a thousand rupees more than you estimate the total bill will be). Keep the wallet at home.
If you prefer traditional note-taking, carry a piece of paper for the grocery list. Otherwise, get a smartphone app. I prefer and recommend Xiaomi’s native notepad app. It’s by far the easiest checklist app. Remember that a phone is seen as a liability here as it is one extra thing you need to worry about. If you are thrifty like me, you can also carry large-size carry bags made of cloth depending upon your estimated cart size and volume. (Remember, plastic bags are banned in the state. There’s no enforcement, but better to be safe than sorry.)
How to Get There?
If you live nearby, consider walking to the store.
If you live far, there are three things you can try –
- Take a public transport (autorickshaw is the best option here)
- Drive your own vehicle (preferably a two-wheeler with space to keep the bags while returning) and park it not where everybody parks but at a place near to the store. While returning you can walk till there to avoid the crowd, hawkers, Greenpeace activists, and miscellaneous pamphlet distributors
- If you plan to take a four-wheeler, beware of no-parking. There are a very few DMart stores in Mumbai that provide parking space, let alone free parking. To avoid your vehicle from getting towed away by opportunistic traffic police, use the method mentioned above
- You may also get a sidekick who can drive you to the entrance and then go and park somewhere close by. After you check out, buzz them to come to pick you up. The downsides are that they will have to wait for around 60 minutes in the car before you finish your shopping and you will have to carry your phone. Going home and coming back is an option but fuel prices are rising.
When to Go
The new DMart timings are: 8 AM to 11 PM throughout the week. Assuming that you work from 9 AM to 5 PM on weekdays, you can either go after 7 PM or any time on Saturday or Sunday. But the problem is that everyone with the same schedule thinks alike. So, if you plan on going on a Saturday, there will be a thousand others who will do the same.
Unless you find out a pattern in how others think. Now, read carefully, because this is where I spew gold.
The perfect time to go DMart shopping is on a Sunday at 3.30 PM. Do it in the first week of the month for better deals and discounts.
Most people are tired at the end of a weekday. They think that others are too, so, they coordinate with their better halves and go shopping post work. They also think that people have off-days on weekends, so they don’t wait till Saturday. They usually do this on a Friday so that they can use the “weekend feeling” to push themselves and maybe get the bigger bottle of Hershey’s chocolate syrup. But, since everyone thinks like that, everybody flocks to the store unknown to the fact that they got there using the same thought process. They end up crowding the store. You go to a DMart store between 6 PM and 10 PM on a weekday and you are bound to meet people. Lots and lots of people. With their kids.
Some people have an off on Saturdays, too, so, they plan to go shopping on that day. Unfortunately, everyone who has an off on Saturdays thinks alike. And they all flock to the store. (Repeat.)
Come Sunday, and most people are tired and hung over from previous night’s party where they let their hair down. The two types of people – who have already shopped on a weekday or on Saturday – are happier that they do not want to do it on Sunday. They laze around in the couch till the “Monday feeling” kicks in.
Those who know that they have to do the shopping also laze around till it’s too late. And it’s already past 6 PM when they get up and start thinking about the things they want to get.
When you go shopping on a Sunday at 3.30 PM you will see empty aisles clear and broad enough to spot all those things that others have knocked over in an attempt to find the heaviest Kurkure packet. You can easily maneuver your cart and also don’t have to stand in a queue while at the counter. If you manage to do the shopping within 45 minutes, you can reach the goal of leaving the DMart store before there’s a crowd outside, especially at the baggage counter where serpentine queues are commonplace.
Once you have managed to enter the DMart store on a Sunday afternoon, the next step is to get a cart in good working condition. Make sure the tires roll easily and do not get stuck. Put the green-colored security bag in the cart and proceed to the good things in life: the grocery aisles of DMart.
Pro Tip – If there is a queue at the cart area, don’t get in it. Instead, smile at the person who frisked you, move out of the store, and pull one by yourself. This will save you a few minutes and also earn you the envy of those standing in the queue. (Unfortunately, this may not be possible for women as they will have to again get frisked, which happens in a small, closed makeshift room.)
The strategy is to find a secluded place at the center of the ground floor and park the cart there. Instead of moving it around, it is better to briskly walk around, get the things you want, and stash them into the parked cart. I have tested and compared this with the traditional method, and it saves up to 15 minutes. I understand this looks a bit silly, but trust me it’s the best way. This is also the reason why I suggested the age group above.
Consider the grocery list but don’t follow its order. Instead, follow the layout of DMart and collect things as you move from one end to another.
Don’t Look at the Price
If you are going to be buying things that you need, then there’s no need to look at the prices. Especially for those groceries that you buy every month. Instead, look out for BOGO offers and discounts and festive deals and base your shopping on them. DMart sometimes also makes announcements, so, do keep an ear open. You might also catch some conversations between other shoppers and get some ideas. (Fun tip – some couples get real naughty even while they are shopping for a soap.)
If you plan to check out the higher levels of DMart, make sure you park your filled cart in a place that is secure from “good thieves”. You may have not come across them but sometimes the DMart staff will take your unattended cart and park it in the godown area to make space for other shoppers. Getting it back is always a struggle and adds time to your shopping activity.
If you plan to buy multiple things, consider getting a basket temporarily.
Once all the items in the grocery list are checked out, you should make a move to the counter area. This is one of the most crowded and confusing places in a DMart store. Due to a lack of space, there are serial as well as parallel counters. If you manage to reach the counter area before 4.30 PM, you will not find any queues. Maybe one or two people tops.
But, if there are long queues at each counter, you should consider the serial ones next to them. Of course, getting to these counters (on the nether side of the hall) will be a struggle, but it will be worth it. This is against the idea of “herd mentality” which is at full display at any DMart counter area. It is okay if you chafe a tire over a kid’s toe because peaceful shopping cannot be traded without sacrifices.
Once you are at the counter and are done with the billing, help the person who is filling your bags. This will expedite the process and you can also share a smile when it’s done. The person behind you will also thank you in his mind unless the chocolates at display have gotten the fancy of their toddler.
It is when you do your grocery shopping quickly that you achieve peace. And with this guide, you most certainly will.
5 responses to “The Definitive Guide to Surviving Shopping at DMart”
Yup shopping in DMart is definitely a health hazard.
A modern-day desi Norman Rockwell would have a field time painting scenes from a quaint weekend afternoon spent shopping in that one sadistically-cramped Nerul DMart. Nothing makes me hate my fellow man more than the sight of some dweeb pushing along a trolley with two items in it. TWO! The only manageable time I’ve found to visit is at 10 PM on a weekday.
I would consider shopping at Reliance Fresh if their staff could reliably bill purchases a wee bit before the heat death of the universe.
Also, there was this one time a few months ago when I’m pretty sure DMart was trolling us all by placing the ‘contraceptives’ shelf in the most crowded and inconvenient nook of the store. There has got to be some sort of a message here.
Tell me about that dweeb!! It’s a common sight, yes. 10 PM on a weekday is good, too, yes. The aisles are empty but the check-out counters are not. And some people even have two trolleys, all full. 🙁
I don’t visit Reliance Fresh because they don’t have all the things in most cases. You want a 1 kg pack of a cereal? Nope. Here’s a 5-kg packet.
Gosh, that’s new to me. And that’s clever, eh?
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