Covid scare: How apps are helping people get essential items without them having to leave home

Updated: Jun 21, 2020 2:00 AM

Going out to buy essentials today has become a challenge. But apps are stepping in, helping people get access to essential items without them having to leave home.

Grocery online shopping application on smartphone screen with food at home in background

A few months back, stepping out to buy groceries or any other essentials would have been considered a normal thing to do. However, in these unprecedented times, stepping out is both unsafe and a luxury that not many can afford. Even though the lockdown, enforced as a result of the rapid spread of the virus, is now being lifted slowly, stepping out unless absolutely necessary is neither advisable nor safe.

But with this restriction in movement, many people have been finding it difficult to get hold of essential and other supplies. And it’s here that online delivery services have come to the rescue, helping citizens get access to essential items without them having to step out of their homes.

Online grocery startups like BigBasket and Grofers have even hired new employees to meet the demand and smoothen the process of delivering essentials to customers. Apart from them, many new players have also jumped at the chance to meet the increasing demand. Food delivery apps like Swiggy and Zomato have joined hands to deliver groceries and essentials as well. Swiggy has expanded its services to over 125 cities across India, and has also launched the local delivery service, ‘Genie’, in over 15 cities. The Swiggy Genie feature includes a pickup and drop-off service to send packages across a city or purchase essentials from a particular store.

Mumbai-based CoutLoot has introduced an ‘essentials’ service category on its platform. The new category uses CoutLoot’s extensive offline seller network to pick and deliver essential goods sold through its platform. CoutLoot has also listed several grocery shops and medical stores on its platform, allowing consumers within a 3-km radius to place orders.

Then Rapido has also launched RapidoBoxm a new on-demand delivery service, where customers can request pickup and drop of food, groceries and medicine on the app from, or to, another customer. The person-to-person delivery service enables users to exchange food, groceries or medicines with their family and friends who are not able to step out of their homes. Foodtech startup Box8 has also allowed ordering of groceries through its feature ‘InstFresh’. Users can order essentials, including dairy products, fruits, poultry products, among others.

Bengaluru-based digital payment startup Instamojo has also come up with an initiative for stores, pharmacies and logistics companies to help deliver essentials. The startup offers a ‘Priority KYC’ feature on its platform for essential services. Payment app PhonePe has also launched a new feature on the ‘Stores’ section of its app to enable delivery of essentials.

Another platform ClickPost is helping its clients, including Nykaa, Realme and Pharmeasy, reduce RTO rates, prevent delays, cut down on logistics and customer care costs, and provide the best after-purchase experience. Clickpost is also monitoring stuck shipments and blocked lanes across all routes and updating the pin-code serviceability on the basis of on-ground data. Many e-commerce and retail companies have taken to Clickpost’s logistics intelligence platform to partner with the right logistics companies to deliver essential goods.

Shopclues is another app that is delivering grocery and essential items through its platform. There’s a separate grocery option available on the app and the website. People can just click on the option and order groceries and other daily essentials.

Bengaluru-based grocery delivery platform StoreSe has also partnered with More Retail, Vishal Mega Mart and Metro Cash to deliver essentials and groceries. Visitor and community management app NoBrokerHood has launched its own grocery delivery service, which enables society residents to order daily essentials at their doorstep and volunteers within the society can consolidate the order and get them delivered.

Wellness app Curefit has added a wide range of grocery essentials, with the aim to supply them within 24 hours of ordering. It has partnered with the likes of Saffola, MTR, Britannia and MDH to provide daily essentials amid the pandemic. Giants Uber and BigBasket have also partnered to deliver everyday essentials to people. Uber’s driver partners are, in fact, helping BigBasket with deliveries. Uber does not charge any commissions for these trips. The commission is directly transferred to the driver partner. Delivery app Dunzo also partnered with Britannia, Cipla and Marico recently to deliver medicines and groceries directly from those companies’ distribution centres.

Ride apps Uber and Ola are also providing cars for emergency services. While Ola Emergency allows citizens to travel to hospitals, Uber Medic is specifically for healthcare workers to help them travel between their workplace and home.

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