Coronavirus: These startups are enabling delivery of essential goods across cities during lockdown
Since stepping out during the coronavirus-led lockdown has become a challenge, several startups are helping in delivering essential goods to consumers across the country.
On any given day, stepping out to buy groceries and vegetables would have been considered normal. However, these are unprecedented times.
Amid the coronavirus pandemic, the Indian government announced a nationwide lockdown on March 25 to curb the spread of the deadly disease. Following the news, there has been a spike in orders of essential commodities.
With the restriction on movement, people found it difficult to get hold of even the basic supplies. To that effect, online grocery startups like BigBasket and Grofers, sped up their process to meet the demand and hired new employees to smoothen the process of delivering essentials to their customers.
That’s not at all. Many new players also jumped at the chance to tap into the rising consumer demand.
With India currently undergoing a protracted lockdown to contain the spread of COVID-19, the move comes as a much-needed relief, as it will make essential goods more accessible and available to consumers across India.
Here are five startups that have come up with novel solutions to deal with the situation.
Foodtech unicorn Swiggy has been selling groceries on its platform for a long time now with its Swiggy Store vertical. Amid the pandemic, it has expanded this service to over 125 cities across India.
Further, it has partnered with several brands and retailers such as HUL, P&G, Godrej, Dabur, Marico, Vishal Mega Mart, Adani Wilmers, Cipla, and many other city-specific stores, to supply branded essential products and food items.
According to Swiggy, the service is being fulfilled through neighbourhood kirana stores and distribution centres of the larger brands. The feature is available on the Swiggy app under the 'Grocery' tab.
Moreover, the online food delivery platform has launched a hyperlocal delivery service ‘Genie’ in over 15 cities. The Swiggy Genie feature includes pickup and drop-off service to send packages across the city or purchase essentials from a particular store.
Through the Grocery and Genie features, Swiggy aims to address the pain-points of not just the consumers, but also retailers and delivery partners for whom the upgraded services now act as a channel to drive additional revenue.
Mumbai-based social ecommerce startup and offline-to-online enabler CoutLoot recently introduced an ‘Essentials’ service category on its platform. The new category is leveraging CoutLoot’s extensive offline seller network to safely deliver and pick essential goods sold through its platform.
Commenting on the initiative, Jasmeet Thind, Co-founder of CoutLoot, said,
“The launch of the ‘Essentials’ category on the CoutLoot platform is our way of ensuring that consumers do not struggle for essential household items during the COVID-19 lockdown. With our team of 70+, we are also ensuring that supply chain disruptions remain minimal and Indians have easy, safe, and on-time access to the items that they need on a daily basis.”
CoutLoot has listed several grocery shops, medical stores, vegetable vendors, etc., on its platform, allowing consumers within one to three kilometres radius to place orders for essential items by either picking them up from the store or getting them home delivered.
Bengaluru-based digital payment startup Instamojo has come up with an initiative for physical stores, pharmacies, and logistics companies to help deliver essentials during the lockdown. The startup is offering ‘Priority KYC’ on its platform for these essential services to go online in less than five minutes.
Speaking about the initiative, Akash Gehani, Co-Founder and COO, Instamojo, stated,
“While most businesses are working hard to survive the tides of the current condition, we have observed on Instamojo’s platform that there has been a growth by about 86 percent in the food and retails category, thus emphasising the surge in need/demand for daily essentials goods. This, in turn, has led to an increased number of local stores adopting the digital way of doing business. To facilitate easier onboarding which allows merchants to start selling immediately, we launched the Priority KYC. Through this offering, we are enabling merchants handling essential services to go online in less than five minutes.”
A new merchant on the startup’s platform can get the KYC documents approved within 24 hours of uploading, post which they can immediately begin setting their store up. Additionally, transactions worth Rs 50,000 or first 20 transactions (whichever comes first), has been made free for first-time users.
PhonePe, the Bengaluru-based digital payments startup, recently launched a new feature on the ‘Stores’ section of its app to enable home delivery of essentials and contactless payments for its users.
PhonePe users need to go to the Stores section on the app and click on the ‘currently operational’ and ‘home delivery’ filters to find the nearest operational stores. Users can make the payment for their purchases by using the ‘pay now’ feature in the app from the safety of their home.
Since the launch of these features, PhonePe has seen a three-fold increase in activity on the ‘Stores’ page, and a 50 percent rise in daily traffic on its platform.
Bengaluru-based wellness startup Curefit, under its Whole.fit vertical, has added a wide range of grocery essentials, and aims to supply the same within 24 hours of placing the order.
It has partnered with the likes of Saffola (Marico), MTR, Britannia, Pillsbury (General Mills), Ashirwad (ITC), MDH, and 24 Mantra to provide daily essentials amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The startup further stated that all the delivery crew members are being routinely checked for body temperatures, and have been necessitated to keep personal distance while picking up the orders from the warehouses. It has also moved to contactless delivery to reduce contact with customers.
Curefit is currently providing essential delivery service across Bengaluru, Hyderabad, and Delhi, with Mumbai being in the pipeline.
Online property portal NoBroker also launched a grocery service on its integrated visitor and community management app NoBrokerHood to enable society residents to order daily essentials at their doorstep in wake of the lockdown due to COVID-19 pandemic.
Co-founder Akhil Gupta, in a statement, said,
"NoBrokerHood's grocery foray comes at a time when the grocery segment is experiencing high demand amid the lockdown and consumers are pressed for daily needs. This will help overcome the hardship that people are undergoing for groceries during the lockdown."
The startup has already started delivering groceries in cities like Bengaluru, Pune, Chennai, and Hyderabad, and plans to soon extend the service to other cities, including Delhi and Mumbai.
(Edited by Suman Singh )