Home / News / India /  How India's Internet users spent their time during the lockdown

BENGALURU: The usage of video streaming, social media, grocery delivery and online education platforms spiked during February-April, when most of India’s Internet users stayed at home, said a report by research firm, KalaGato Pte Ltd.

Data from the research firm also showed that usage of e-commerce sites such as Amazon.com, Snapdeal, Flipkart declined as most consumers shifted focus to online grocery retailers--Bigbasket, DMart (delivery app) and Fresh To Home--for essential purchases.

Daily active user (DAU) base across online streaming platforms such as Netflix and Amazon Prime video shot up by 122% and 72% month-on-month, respectively, between February and April.

Besides online streaming, the daily active base also jumped across video conferencing platforms including Skype, Hangouts, Zoom during the said period. Data showed that Zoom registered the highest increase of 185% in DAUs, while Skype’s DAU base surged 100% in the three-month period.

E-commerce and delivery platforms, which depend heavily on logistics and manpower, took the biggest hit due to the nationwide lockdown that was imposed on 25 March. Lack of delivery agents on the ground and curbs on inter-state movement of goods also hurt e-commerce and delivery firms.

Both e-commerce and hyperlocal delivery platforms made short-term adjustments to their supply chains by selling essentials and groceries to users. Analysts and investors that Mint spoke to indicate that both e-commerce and hyperlocal firms faced several challenges even while delivering essentials because they could not ensure enough assortment of products.

Large e-commerce firms had a greater assortment of essential products due to vast warehouse capacity that they own, but they lacked abundant manpower and logistics capacity to move goods between states. This has forced many customers to shop offline or order items locally.

Hyperlocal delivery players such as Dunzo, Swiggy, and Zomato doubled down on partnerships with offline stores, supermarkets, and even with consumer packaged goods (CPG) brands directly to rapidly increase supply during the lockdown. Direct partnerships with stores and manufacturers, and the on-demand nature of hyperlocal delivery platforms meant that customers could get their deliveries on the same day.

E-grocery portals such as BigBasket, PrimeNow and Grofers faced multiple setbacks due to their inventory-led model and users had to wait for many days to get their orders delivered.

Daily usage across e-commerce portals including Flipkart, Snapdeal, and Amazon plummeted by almost 50% each (month-on-month) from February to April. During the same period, online grocery retailers, BigBasket, Freshtohome, and Dmart posted a 50% increase in DAUs, according to KalaGato’s report.

Restaurant aggregation and delivery platforms such as Swiggy and Zomato also witnessed a 48% and 52% drop in monthly users respectively, while cloud kitchen platform Faasos witnessed a 5% increase in daily active users. According to KalaGato’s chief business officer, Aman Kumar, Faasos doubled down on online promotions with a messaging that since they ran their own kitchens, Faasos had a greater control over cleanliness and quality.

"Faasos, with their cloud kitchen model, reacted quickly to evolving customer expectations and market conditions. Their messaging along these lines seems to have given confidence to consumers who continued to order food on the platform even as they moved away from others," added Kumar.

Apart from e-grocers and video streaming, online learning platforms also saw an increase in daily users and session times. Online math learning portal, Toppr’s, daily active base increased by 47% m-o-m between February and April. Similarly, online up-skilling startup, Coursera, and non-profit education portal, Khan Academy, saw a 28% and 33% m-o-m increase in DAUs, respectively.

BYJU’s, which is currently the most valued ed-tech startup, saw a 43% increase in daily active users, and a 106% rise in session times among users during February-April.

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