Coronavirus: This 24-year-old investment banker is helping deliver essentials in Siliguri
Amid the lockdown across the nation due to the coronavirus pandemic, procuring essentials has become a difficult task. For people living in the metros, thanks to the hoard of e-grocers such as, , Modern Bazaar, , , and , among others, buying essential goods has become easier.
However, for a significantly large population that lives in non-metros and villages which constitutes the ‘Bharat’, it is a tough task.
And Bengaluru-based investment banker Shiv Bansal also felt the same pain when he flew to his hometown Siliguri in West Bengal to take care of his ageing parents during the COVID-19 pandemic.
To help solve the issue of procuring daily essentials in small towns, especially in Siliguri, the 24-year-old started Janta Delivery, a hyperlocal doorstep delivery venture that takes care of the last-mile logistics of groceries and other essentials.
How it works
Janata Delivery works in a quite simple way. Customers place their grocery order by sending a WhatsApp text on +91-76022-50045, or through its website. Once the order is received, it is sent to the respective store and its team coordinates with them for order preparation.
“Once the order is prepared, the nearest delivery agent is informed to pick up the order along with the bill and pays for it upfront. The delivery agent then hands over the bill made by the network store, receives the payment of the bill amount along with Rs 50 delivery charges, and hands over the ordered items to the customer. All the coordination is currently done over phone calls or WhatsApp texts,” explains Shiv, the Founder of Janta Delivery.
He says that using WhatsApp is a deliberate move, owing to the high penetration rate of the Facebook-owned instant messaging platform. “Almost everyone in Siliguri uses WhatsApp, and are already comfortable with the application,” he adds.
Further, for senior citizens who cannot type and wish to order essentials, Shiv says that they write their needs on a paper and send a photo to Janta Delivery.
Speaking on why the initiative does not have its own app like other e-grocers, Shiv tells SocialStory,
“Making an app would have required some time and effort which would have delayed the launch of the service, thus reducing its impact during the COVID-19 lockdown. I wanted to launch first to get a sense of the demand. Now that I have a good sense of this market and its potential, I can decide if I need an app going forward.”
At present, Janta Delivery is doing more than 40 orders per day. “We expect this to increase as the lockdown gets extended. Further, we want to expand to offer a full-stack solution with other essential items like medicines and vegetables,” adds Shiv.
The birth on the third day of lockdown
It took only three days for Shiv to start the venture. As soon as a 21-day lockdown was announced across India on March 24, Shiv rushed to Siliguri the same day, as his parents are senior citizens, and needed a caregiver in such unprecedented times.
Post the lockdown, when Shiv was asked by his parents to get groceries, to his dismay, he couldn’t find any home delivery services for grocery in the town of Siliguri.
Soon he realised that these services are predominantly present in Tier-I cities, and residents in Tier-II and III cities have no other choice but to step outside to purchase essentials.
However, when he decided to step out to get groceries from a neighbourhood kirana store, he saw that the store is filled with buyers, completely defeating the purpose of social distancing, and putting the potentially healthy population at a massive health risk.
Simultaneously, Shiv was also learning that multiple delivery agents in Siliguri are dealing with unemployment due to reduced restaurant delivery orders, and many are contemplating going back to their villages to reduce the cost of making ends meet in a Tier-II city.
“The urge to solve these three problems gave me the idea to start Janta Delivery, a hyperlocal logistics venture that delivers groceries and other essential items to the customer’s doorstep,” says Shiv.
Within three days of the lockdown, he pulled together a five-member team and sorted out operations, starting Janta Delivery in Siliguri with three primary goals — deliver grocery to the doorstep so that people can still respect social distancing, provide employment to migrant workers so that they can sustain their livelihood, and discourage people from hoarding groceries by providing them with a reliable delivery service.
Shiv adds that the network of kirana stores in small towns is very strong, and people have confidence in the quality of products supplied by a few selected grocery stores in their locality.
“Hence, to source our supply we collaborated with a few known grocery stores of Siliguri, who have won the goodwill of the residents here in terms of the quality,” he adds.
Shiv says that he has not spent a lot of money to run Janta Delivery. The delivery agents’ earnings get covered with the delivery cost, and hence, not much investment has gone into running the business.
Shiv, who works in Bengaluru as an investment banker, says that the venture is an outcome of a need and not profits. He adds that he has not thought about any plans yet for Janta Delivery after the lockdown is lifted.
“Right now, my team is focussed on keeping the current operations smooth so that we can meet the needs of people in Siliguri and keep them safe,” he concludes.