E-commerce giants like Amazon, Flipkart, Zomato coming home, where consumers are 

Published: July 12, 2020 6:45 AM

Swiggy says since the beginning of the lockdown, there was significant rise in consumer intent to purchase groceries and essentials on the platform, and so it ventured into delivery of items other than food.

Swiggy says since the beginning of the lockdown, there was significant rise in consumer intent to purchase groceries and essentials on the platform.

By Reya Mehrotra

When consumers don’t go out to the world, the world has to come to them. With the pandemic showing no signs of abating, and we adjusting to the new normal, businesses are reaching out to consumers at home by making available all sorts of services, products and experiences. Grocery and daily needs are already a call away, be it the local kirana shop or big fish like Amazon. Crave the five-star experience? Taj Hotels has a dedicated app, QMin, to deliver the gourmet food experiences to customers. Marriott has partnered with Zomato to deliver its gastronomical offerings; Oberoi has an online menu with personalised delivery. Standalone restaurants, be it fine dining or a McDonald’s, are all geared up for takeaways.

And, the veterans have an upper edge, having recognised the pulse of the market and cashing in on the need of the hour. Sales of e-tailers Amazon and Flipkart are zooming to pre-covid levels. Such is business that Zomato is raking in the profits and has even reinstated salaries that it cut during the initial days of the pandemic. And all these players who are into the delivery space are extending their reach beyond their comfort zone to include products and services normally not part of their portfolio.

Recently Amazon and Big Basket joined Zomato and Swiggy in delivering liquor to homes in West Bengal. Zomato and Swiggy are already into liquor home deliveries in Jharkhand and Odisha. Says Mohit Sardana, COO, food delivery at Zomato, “At the beginning of the lockdown, we started delivering grocery and other essentials apart from our core, food delivery. We have been and continue to optimise our last-mile fleet to also create a safe channel for delivery of essentials, food and now even alcohol. We are also helping implement contactless dining and our users can stay at home and get deliveries right at their doorsteps.”

Swiggy says since the beginning of the lockdown, there was significant rise in consumer intent to purchase groceries and essentials on the platform, and so it ventured into delivery of items other than food. “We also received requests from multiple state governments to enable home delivery of essentials. Over the last two months, we have rapidly expanded our grocery and essentials delivery service to over 300 cities and have partnered with several national brands and city-level supermarkets and retailers. Along with the delivery of groceries and essentials, we launched a pick up and drop service called ‘Swiggy Genie’ which is now present in over 60 cities. ‘Genie’ has been widely appreciated by consumers as it helped them procure essentials or send food parcels to their loved ones anywhere in the city while they were locked in. In compliance with the local governments, we also started the delivery of non-essential items at locations where we received necessary permissions. This includes pick and drop of non-essential items such as books and documents, electronic gadgets, over-the-counter medicines, etc, from anywhere in the city,” says its spokesperson.

Not only food delivery aggregators, but digital payment facilitators PhonePe and Paytm, too, have found good business in delivering at home. The ‘scan to order’ option of Paytm encourages takeaways. Through it, one can scan QR codes and get access to menus. The clients can then pay digitally through the app. Coffee brand Starbucks has a pan-India partnership with Paytm for contactless dining solutions at its 180 stores. Paytm Mall also plans to start hyperlocal same day deliveries for groceries and electronics as both have seen good demands owing to work from home and lockdowns. In April, PhonePe ventured into home delivery of groceries and essentials and contactless payments and said it saw a 50% rise in daily traffic on its platform.

Bengaluru based NoBrokerHood, an integrated visitor and community management app, is now delivering daily essentials. Apps like Curefit, StoreSe, Shopclues have also launched home delivery of essentials and groceries. Gurgaon-based O2O (Online to Offline) platform Dotpe, that offers QR-based digital commerce and payments solutions, has partnered with Barista for contactless dining solutions. To break the monopoly of Swiggy and Zomato, National Restaurants Association of India (NRAI) too announced its recent partnership with Dotpe for enabling cashless payments, digital ordering and contactless dining to reduce the dependency of hotels and restaurants on these apps.

Naman Vijay, CEO and co-founder, ClickPost, integrated logistics platform, an e-commerce enabler that prevents delays, cuts down logistics and customer care costs, says this is just the start of the great Indian consumption story and that it will boom for the coming years. “The biggest opportunity is for software product companies who are building new-age tech for the logistics industry. We are already seeing more and more hypermarkets moving online as the new normal dictates that order placement has moved completely online.” Atul Kumar, co-founder of Fraazo, a Mumbai-based consumer agri-tech platform that ensures procurement within 18 hours through its hyperlocal markets, adds, “Despite challenges, home delivery has continued. With brands providing innovative and alluring offers to consumers with ‘contactless, doorstep delivery’ and maintaining necessary safety measures — it is hard to not get influenced.”

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