Thursday 23 April 2020

E-grocers like BigBasket, Grofers , others surge ahead on deliveries

E-grocers like BigBasket, Grofers , others surge ahead on deliveriesBENGALURU: BigBasket and Grofers, India’s biggest online grocers, have nearly doubled the number of daily deliveries compared with a month ago, as more consumers hit the internet to buy essentials amid the ongoing lockdown.

The surge has come despite shuttered warehouses in the early days of the lockdown that began on March 25 to stem the spread of the Covid-19 virus outbreak.

Elevated Demand
Supply and labour shortage also put a spanner in the works initially, reducing operating capacity to onetenth at these grocery etailers.

The teething troubles now seem to be over, although elevated demand will mean consumers shopping online for groceries will still have to wait for delivery slots.

Despite the bottlenecks, BigBasket said 283,000 orders a day are being met, up from 150,000 before the shutdown, while Grofers said it was servicing 190,000 daily orders against 100,000 before the crisis.

“Today, we deliver 2.83 lakh orders and are growing. Sadly, the expectation is three to six times this number... We are really trying our best,” Hari Menon, BigBasket's cofounder, wrote on microblogging platform Twitter on Monday.

Since many workers left for their hometowns just before the lockdown, planning and operations were disrupted, he said. “That was something we didn’t anticipate, which meant we couldn’t pick orders and deliver them in sufficient numbers to satisfy the 3-6X increase in demand,” Menon said.

BigBasket’s main rival Grofers said it has faced an unprecedented surge in demand during the lockdown. “After the initial hiccup in operations, we were able to scale up rapidly and have now served over 25 lakh households across 24 cities. Today, we are serving over 1.9 lakh orders a day and projecting this to increase by 50% in the coming month,” said Albinder Dhindsa, cofounder, Grofers.

It is ramping up supplies from brands and manufacturing partners to meet demand, he added. Both BigBasket and Grofers are also expected to hire big in the coming weeks. While BigBasket will take on board 10,000 new workers, Grofers will hire 4,500 workers in the next two weeks after having added 2,500 already, ET reported earlier.

Horizontal Thrust
Horizontal marketplaces Flipkart and Amazon have also muscled into the online grocery space. Walmart-owned Flipkart has scaled up delivery of groceries to nearly 400 cities from five cities prior to the lockdown, a company executive told ET.

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) had given provisional approvals to stock packaged food items at its 125-odd warehouses and the company is now delivering more grocery orders than before, the executive said.

Amazon, which has had a headstart over Flipkart in the groceries category, stopped accepting orders for its Pantry services across 100 cities, leading to a backlash from consumers. However, the situation has improved, it said.

The company said Pantry is up and running in 85 cities now, while its two-hour delivery service Fresh is operational in the six cities it is present in. “In the last one week, we have added more than 60 cities that get essential products through Amazon Pantry, taking the total number of cities to over 85,” Amazon said in a statement. “Customer demand in all these cities is more than 2x pre-lockdown...”

Social commerce startup Meesho, etailers Paytm Mall, Shopclues and Snapdeal, and real-estate firms such as NoBroker have also diversified into the grocery space, ET reported on April 9. Food-delivery apps Zomato and Swiggy, too, have doubled down on the grocery category since it began seeing an uptick in demand. While Swiggy was already present in the grocery delivery segment, Zomato tied up with Grofers to launch the services.

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