Life, as we know, ended with the advent of 2020. It ushered in a new and scary era by introducing us to COVID-19. This puzzle remains unsolved even after toils by the best minds in the world. We now talk about life before and after the pandemic.
Nothing remains untouched, and one of the most affected is the food business, particularly food delivery. Zomato is the forerunner in this industry in India. And it is only apt that their business performance is seen as an example.
Zomato Before Pandemic
Zomato had reported a revenue of $192 million on a loss of $277 million in the financial year 2018-19. Then, in 2019-20, it doubled its earnings (revenue) reporting levels of $394 million on a loss of $293 million.
Zomato acquired competitor Uber Eats in January 2020 gaining market share to increase GMV by 108%. In figures, the GMV increased from $718 million in financial 2019 to $1.49 billion in the financial year 2020.
But as COVID-19 gained pace in the country, India responded starting a lockdown in March. The food delivery GMV (Gross Merchandise Value) was at an all-time low, reducing by 80% in the last week of Match 2020 (comparing with GMV at its peak in mid-February 2020).
Zomato during Pandemic
In June 2020 quarter, Zomato had a revenue of $41 million on a loss of $12 million. These figures show the evident effects of the COVID-19 pandemic sweeping across India. But a positive impact was that the burn rate was reduced. It was expected to stand under $1 million and by July 2020 the monthly revenues started showing a steady rise reaching 60% of pre-COVID levels.
Deepinder Goyal, CEO, and Founder of the unicorn Zomato remained hopeful of complete recovery in 3-6 months.
Following Goyal’s prediction, the recovery has now been over 80% in August 2020 and finally reached pre-COVID levels by October 2020. He further expects the food delivery business to grow 15-25 percent month on month. He informs that Zomato has done 9.2 crore deliveries since March with no reported transmission through delivery. The road through slow and rocky, persistence has still yielded results.
Steps taken by Zomato for Continued Business
Zomato recognized that they have to take initiatives for survival in the hostile business atmosphere. There were a series of steps taken that lay down an example of a strong spirit and determination. We look at a few of these:
- Contactless Dining: Introduced in India and eight other countries, patrons were offered contactless dining when they visited a restaurant. People were able to enjoy the dining experience without any interaction with restaurant staff or touching menu cards.
- Contactless Food Delivery: A similar concept to contactless dining, here food was delivered without direct interaction with the delivery person. The food is left at an agreed point and picked up by the customer.
- Temperature checks: All delivery partners have their temperatures checked when they reach the restaurant to pick up delivery before the order is handed out. This is then mentioned on the receipt for the benefit and information of the customers.
- Aarogya Setu App: Zomato made it mandatory for all delivery partners to download and use the government-backed Aarogya Setu app.
- Mask and Sanitizers: Mask and sanitizers have become a must at all times and for everyone. Zomato provided washable and reusable masks as well as sanitizers to all working delivery partners. Where they were unable to do this, they have reimbursed partners upon purchase o masks and sanitizers.
- Training: All delivery staff was provided training on contactless delivery to ensure bot the parties remain safe during harsh times. This also included training on safety measures as recommended by WHO for delivery as well as personal fronts.
- Restaurant safety: Zomato ensured that all partner restaurants implemented safety measures. They also shared all information with the user so they are assured of the safety measures and hygiene standards. This helps in making an informed decision. Restaurants also had to issue a declaration that they were following measures.
- Insurance: Zomato has added OPD coverage of up to Rs. 5000 to cover potential testing costs for partners. In case of infection, they are also covered by insurance for medical expenses and any loss of earnings.
- Disabling Cash on Delivery: Cash on delivery was disabled to avoid any contact and safety reasons.
Zomato’s primary business model has been the food delivery business. But it also had a small niche segment of delivering groceries, fruits, and vegetables. This venture was called Zomato markets.
During the imposed lockdown in March and further, increasing numbers of COVID-19 swept India, people decided to go out of home less and less. The availability of daily essentials via Zomato was a lucrative option as bigger competitors like Big Basket and Amazon struggles to deliver. Zomato was able to deliver with ties to small and medium local shops.
However, once lockdown became relaxed, it faced stiff competition from new and old competitors alike. Eventually, it did exit this business and decided to focus on the food delivery business model as it started reaching pre-COVID levels.
Another interesting venture is Zomato’s Feed Daily Wager program under the aegis of Feed India campaign. It collected over 30 crores during the pandemic for this cause and was able to provide over 65 million meals to the daily wage earners who lost their means to earn.
Also, under this program, they delivered rations kits which would contain up to 100 meals for the family. More than 100,000 of these kits have already been delivered over the pandemic period.
It was unimaginable to think of the world that we live in today. The most important lesson probably is being human and having humanity in these times. All of us need to rise above individuals and support each other as a community.
Zomato has given us an example to follow. It saw its business decline on a slide, but it kept going and persevered. As a company, it tried to branch into other dimensions, albeit without success. But it remained focused and came back strongly in the end as the numbers and performance suggest.
Another factor was the support to the community, it included customers, restaurants, delivery partners, and even people in general as everyone suffered.
Zomato has shown grit, determination, heart, perseverance in adverse conditions to come out a winner.