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Swiggy also aims to expand the service in Odisha.  (Photo: HT)
Swiggy also aims to expand the service in Odisha. (Photo: HT)

Food apps to deliver liquor in non-metros

Swiggy and Zomato said they are in talks and are going live in states that are quick to respond to the requests

Food delivery unicorns Swiggy and Zomato have started home delivery of alcohol in some non-metro cities, diversifying from their core business that has been severely hit by the covid-19 outbreak. However, extending the service to India’s top cities may take a while.

Swiggy’s alcohol delivery service went live in Ranchi on Thursday after obtaining approvals from the Jharkhand government. People can access this under the ‘Wine Shops’ category on the app.

Zomato aims to expand the service in Ranchi by Friday and take it to all major cities of Jharkhand in the next few days. The Gurugram-based food delivery firm said it already has approvals.

The two unicorns said they are in talks with several governments and are going live in states that are quick to respond to the requests.

Besides, Jharkhand has put a covid tax on alcohol and the government might be aiming to open safer avenues for consumption, while generating revenues from this industry.

“With permissions and licences in place, we are starting home delivery of alcohol in Jharkhand. We believe that a technology-enabled, home delivery-based solution can enable responsible consumption of alcohol and provide an option that’s safer and promotes social distancing. We will go live in Ranchi later today and in seven other cities in Jharkhand over the next couple of days," a Zomato spokesperson said on Thursday.

Swiggy also aims to expand the service in Odisha. However, with ‘Cyclone Amphan’ affecting the state, it will wait for a while, said a person aware of the discussions.

The two companies have also sent proposals to governments and authorities responsible for major metros to start home delivery of alcohol for its users, said an executive each of Zomato and Swiggy, who did not want to be named. However, these approvals might take some time to formalize.

“Taking advantage of our existing technology and infrastructure to enable hyperlocal deliveries, we have been working closely with local authorities to support them with initiatives such as expansion of grocery delivery and covid-19 relief efforts. By enabling home delivery of alcohol in a safe and responsible manner, we can generate additional business for retail outlets while solving the problem of overcrowding, thereby promoting social distancing," said Anuj Rathi, vice-president, products, Swiggy.

Swiggy has introduced measures such as mandatory age verification and user authentication to complete deliveries, to ensure compliance with the law.

Customers can complete their instant age verification by uploading a picture of their valid government ID, followed by a selfie, which the platform will use for authentication using an AI-powered system.

All orders will carry a one-time password that needs to be provided at the time of delivery. There is also a capping on the order quantity.

Swiggy is partnering with authorized retailers after validating their licences and other documents as outlined by the state governments, it said. Delivery partners and retailers have been virtually trained to facilitate smooth processing and fulfilment of orders.

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