Home/ Industry / Retail/  E-tailers, food delivery firms brace for extended lockdown regime

BENGALURU/NEW DELHI: Online grocery and food delivery platforms are preparing themselves for the long haul, with the nationwide lockdown now extended till 3 May.

Having tackled various challenges during the 21-day lockdown, online firms are now looking to resolve supply chain and labour crunch issues, diversifying and adding more products to ‘essentials’ to remain operational for a longer period.

The government has allowed e-commerce firms to remain operational during the extended lockdown and delivery vehicles and personnel can move around with the necessary permits.

E-commerce firms such as Amazon India and Flipkart have been planning to ramp up delivery operations and looking at what more customers may need if they continue working from home.

Online grocery delivery service Grofers is ensuring availability of sufficient stocks from its brand partners, working closely with manufacturers for seamless supply of its own brand assortments. It has increased procurement capacity of its own brands two times and plans to extend it to five times if required.

Grofers has also hired 2,000 people from industries that were hit by the crisis such as textile, manufacturing, and services and plans to hire an additional 5,000 warehouse and delivery staff over the next two weeks. It has partnered with platforms such as Zomato to get their delivery fleet on board.

“...The situation is evolving and we understand that the local authorities have completely cut off the sealed areas and will not be allowing entry to these areas. We are working with them to figure out how we can facilitate deliveries of essential items. We have started bulk deliveries, where we will collate all orders from a society and our vehicle will do a single drop in a single slot," said Saurabh Kumar, founder, Grofers.

Earlier this week, online food ordering and delivery platform Zomato expanded into grocery delivery services in over 80 cities in India—after launching it in a few cities—to ensure last-mile delivery of essentials to households in the middle of a lockdown. The Zomato app now features "Zomato Market" that lists local grocery stores in an area.

After its initial pilots, Swiggy has enabled the delivery of groceries and essentials across all tier 1 & 2 cities, leveraging its extensive hyper-local delivery fleet, a spokesperson said.

“We are also in discussion with various national and regional (FMCG) brands to scale this offering further," the spokesperson said.

“Despite many on ground challenges of the nationwide lock down, we have gradually resumed services and are continuing to ramp up. We are currently accepting new orders for essential items as per the guidelines of the Government in more than 100 cities across India, while prioritizing existing orders of essential products," an Amazon India spokesperson said.

From the Amazon India stable, there is Amazon Grocery, Amazon Pantry which is live and are accepting new orders in various cities, while Amazon Fresh, which is primarily fruits and vegetables, is now live in Mumbai, Delhi-NCR, Bengaluru and Hyderabad and customers can choose to schedule the delivery of their daily essentials within 72 hours from the time of ordering.

On Thursday, Flipkart introduced hand sanitisers and surgical masks under its private brand Smartbuy’s Health+ range, as part of its personal care essentials category.

Given the exodus of migrant workforce to their hometowns, most online delivery platforms are understaffed and unable to keep pace with the order flow. As a result firms such as Flipkart have tied up with Uber India to ensure quick deliveries and leverage their available fleet of delivery executives to double up as carriers of essential items such as staples and personal hygiene goods.

"Building in-house capabilities at the warehouse and last-mile delivery are the two most critical elements in order fulfilment," said Sanchit Vir Gogia, chief analyst and CEO, Greyhound Research.

(Tarush Bhalla contributed to the story.)

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Updated: 15 Apr 2020, 11:52 AM IST
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