E-grocer Bigbasket made critical tweak to its delivery and logistics network to honor all deliveries during the lockdown even as 80% of the on-ground delivery workforce remained unavailable during the initial days of lockdown, said chief executive Hari Menon.
In the second webinar of Mint’s 'Pivot or Perish' series, Menon highlighted different challenges that the online grocery delivery firm faced and how it altered its delivery business to meet heightened demand from customers.
“We were down to just 20% of our workforce, and we were down to delivering 25,000 orders a day, from a peak of around 150,000 orders (daily) that we used to deliver pre lockdown," he said.
He also pointed out that BigBasket customers weren’t expecting “urgency in deliveries" as customers were aware that the countrywide lockdown had severely impacted normal time taken to deliver orders.
“We tend to display larger love for customers, it has not changed much, but safety was also an important factor for our business. Every communication of mine to other regional heads starting from early March was that employee safety is more important than our business. If an employee was showing symptoms, then our principle was to take care of the employee rather than ensuring the person goes for work," Menon added.
BigBasket had also mandated work from home for all of its employees (except delivery personnel) in early March, much before the lockdown was put in place.
However, the e-grocer struggled with fulfilling deliveries due to a sudden surge in orders as people resorted to panic buying during the initial days of the lockdown. Consumer staples such as flour, tea, and milk were out of stock on the grocer’s app in the first two weeks of the lockdown. BigBasket’s closest rival Grofers reported a supply crunch during the initial days of the lockdown.
BigBasket, which had a cluster of dark-stores and large warehouses across the country, stocks up to 40,000 SKUs on its platform. However, the government mandated that all e-commerce and online delivery firms must deliver only essentials during the lockdown period. To ensure this, BigBasket focused largely on just 8,000 essential SKUs. These include daily essentials, groceries, personal care, and other categories, which make up 80-90% of the average user’s cart.