Steps Taken by Online Food Delivery Startups amid CoronaVirus Outbreak

The Coronavirus or COVID-19 which started last year in December in Wuhan, China has impacted the global economy and no industry sector has remained immune to it. All businesses, startups and industries across the globe are coming up with safety measures to deal with the virus like asking employees to work from home, avoid social gatherings, etc. Foodtech startups are no exception to this.

Top Indian food delivery platforms Zomato and Swiggy together deliver an estimated 2.6 million orders every day. But they have taken multiple measures to deal with the situation. These measures ensure the safe food delivery considering the safety of delivery executive as well as consumers. The measures are helping these startups to keep operations going and to reduce any negative impact on consumer deliveries

Foodtech Startups to Follow Hygiene Practices

Indian foodtech startups Swiggy and Zomato have announced several safety measures in an effort to combat the novel coronavirus. While the Bengaluru based foodtech unicorn Swiggy already sent an email to all its consumers how they are taking the different measures to cope with the situation. Zomato soon followed suit with safekeeping measures of its own like contact-less delivery.

The main focus of the announcements is to inform people about different measures that food delivery platforms are taking to ensure that their delivery partners follow all the safety and hygiene guidelines approved by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare(MoHFW). They also announced that the consumer will now have the option of choosing to ask the delivery partner to leave the food at their doorstep. Some startups are also offering insurance and financial support to delivery staff in case they are infected with the virus

There are certain directives that these startups are following. They ensure that the crew member who assembles the food, the one who packs food and the delivery executive do not touch the food with bare hands and take all possible precautions to ensure hygiene. The delivery packets are sealed and delivered by a runner who drops the order at a pre-appointed spot usually outside the door and then watches from a safe distance while you pick up your order and go back inside.

Co-founder and CEO of Zomato, Deepinder Goyal explained this through a tweet that "A consumer can now choose for this option through our ‘delivery instructions’ feature." An app update over the weekend will make this explicitly clear to everyone." Through this option, the delivery partner will keep the delivery parcel on a clean surface outside the door. When the consumer receives a photo of the delivered food, the consumer can then pick up the package at their convenience.

As India prepares to face the current health crisis, Westlife Development, the company that owns and operates McDonald’s restaurants in West and South India, has launched contactless delivery service to deliver food to the customers’ doorstep. According to the company, McDonald’s India is ensuring that food reaches customers without being touched by bare hands and delivered safely with by following social distancing measures.

“Our customers’ safety has been and will continue to be our top priority. On one hand, we have increased the safety and hygiene processes at our restaurants. On the other hand, we are ensuring contactless delivery to retain consumers’ trust in McDonald’s. Both our consumers and the industry look up to McDonald’s for path-breaking initiatives and contactless delivery,” said Smita Jatia, managing director of Hardcastle Restaurants.

Online Food Deliveries Declining Fast

Unfortunately, even after adopting the hygiene practices, online food delivery has seen huge fall in demand. Online food delivery orders for Zomato and Swiggy have dropped 70% in the last 10 days as customers step back and top restaurants shut shop during lockdown induced by the Covid-19 virus outbreak. The reason behind this is that people do not want to perform any practices, which in any way, can expose them to the virus.

Their investors revealed that even before the lockdown, the orders had started declining. In the first two weeks of March, food delivery orders declined 20%. When lockdown was imposed, Swiggy and Zomato said about 60 to 70% of its cities would be shut for food delivery including few prominent ones. As a result, steady state of 2.5 million deliveries a day, the deliveries have fallen down quickly. In the last 10-15 days, online food delivery orders have dropped 70% to under 1 million a day.

But considering food delivery startups, the Grocery delivery apps are in demand more than ever not only in India but in many countries during this health crisis. As many countries are under lockdown, the governments are asking people to strictly avoid getting out of their houses to maintain social distancing. Hence, majority of the people are relying on the Grocery delivery apps to avoid social gatherings.

As the COVID-19 pandemic spreads across the countries, grocery delivery apps have begun seeing record numbers of daily downloads, according to new data from app store intelligence firm Apptopia. The firm said that online grocery apps like Instacart, Walmart Grocery and Shipt hit yet another new record for daily downloads for their respective apps.

Typically, these apps see tens of thousands to as many as 20,000+ downloads per day. But on April 12, Instacart saw more than 38,500 downloads and Walmart Grocery saw nearly 54,000 downloads. Experts told the delivery strategies need to be better optimised at this time of uncertainty. Considering grocery is in high demand, this makes sense for all players involved in it.


Also Read: Ideally Tested Food Business Ideas you can Start in 2020


Zomato & Swiggy will also deliver Groceries Now

In India too, Grofers, BigBasket and other grocery delivery apps have seen a boom in demand over the past week on the back of panic buying. As many consumers are stuck at home, they are heavily relying on these online grocery stores offering doorstep delivery. Seeing these demands, many foodtech startups are also turning towards these grocery sales to earn some revenue.

Food-delivery and restaurant discovery app Zomato has decided to try hands at the grocery sale as the category sees a major demand amid the Covid-19 outbreak. The Gurugram-based startup Zomato has decided to partner with e-grocers, Grofers and BigBasket, to sell food products and essentials on its platform by facilitating their deliveries.

Online Grocer Delivery or E-grocer
Zomato & Swiggy have started to Deliver Grocery in Major Cities

Zomato has begun delivering grocery in more than 80 cities in India. Users can access this service by downloading the Zomato app and visit the Zomato Market section. Zomato Market identifies nearby grocery stores that are available and open for delivery. They have started grocery delivery in 80 plus cities across India to help with the supply of essentials.

CEO & founder of Zomato, Deepinder Goyal said, “Our delivery network in the country is the second best after India Post. Thus, we are ensuring that in every effort we put it to good use to serve the community. We would like to thank the government authorities, grocery stores, FMCG companies and other startups that have come forward to partner with us and support the community in this endeavour.”

Apart from its grocery deliveries, Zomato has also extended paid Zomato Gold memberships by two months at zero additional cost. This new extension is valid in India, UAE, Australia, Indonesia, Philippines, Lebanon, Turkey, New Zealand, Portugal, and Qatar.

The food delivery app Swiggy is also not behind in this league. Swiggy has announced a new service to deliver groceries through the application. The lockdown has encouraged the company to spread this service to over 125 new cities across India. Swiggy will be providing essential commodities by partnering with numerous national brands.

Swiggy has launched a hyper local delivery service called ‘Genie’ that will pick and drop items from any local store that is open. The service is currently only available for essentials and even medicines. During the launch of the service in September last year, the service was labeled ‘Swiggy Go’.

Swiggy will be partnering with Hindustan Unilever Ltd., P&G India, Godrej Consumer Products Ltd., Dabur India Ltd., Marico Ltd., Vishal Mega Mart Pvt. Ltd., Adani Wilmar Ltd., Cipla Ltd to provide essential items across various cities.


Also Read: Abhinay Choudhary: Simplified Grocery Shopping Through BigBasket


Conclusion

Due to lockdown, Swiggy and Zomato are finding it difficult to grow online food deliveries but this has led them to partner with local grocery shops to provide essentials to the people who want to avoid social gatherings. But this has given people a good opportunity to maintain social distancing by ordering groceries from home only.

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About Varad Kitey

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