Retailers around the world are seeing a ripple effect of the coronavirus pandemic as shops run out of stocks and online platforms struggle to meet the surge in demand. With a strict advisory to avoid public places, people have now turned to online grocery delivery services like BigBasket, Grofers and Dunzo to a large extent.
As a result of the self-imposed quarantine in many homes in urban India, both Grofers and BigBasket have noted a hike in their daily orders. As per an ET report, Grofers has noted a 5% to 7% hike during weekdays, and an 80% increase in demands during the weekend. Meanwhile, BigBasket has noted a 2x growth in their orders, with a 15 to 20% increase in the average order size.
Talking in numbers, BigBasket said on an average it completes 1.6 Lakh deliveries a day, whereas Grofers is not far behind with 90K deliveries. However, the bigger pressure is on fulfilment stores and kiranas that are faced with both online and offline orders. Future Group, which owns BigBazaar and Easyday, is also noting a hike of 20% to 25%, according to the ET report.
Reports suggest that Grofers has noted 18% hike in the value of online orders. Meanwhile, a customer from Chandigarh also broke Grofers’ previous record of highest value order by ordering groceries worth INR 52K in a single order. The company has also been noting a hike in the orders of immunity boosters and daily hygiene products like Chyawanprash, honey, and cleaners.
Believe it or not, but the situation has managed to get much worse in certain Western countries with people getting into brawls over the last roll of toilet paper. But are we far from it?
How Are Retailers Managing Supply Chain To Meet Demand?
Well, with the situation anticipated to get worse, what are the things one should hoard? Food, sanitisers and face masks, just in case you wish to take a stroll outside. That’s exactly what’s in high demand right now. While hand sanitisers and face masks started to get difficult to find last week, daily essentials are also in short supply on the grocery delivery platforms.
However, Hari Menon, founder of BigBasket claims that there were certain issues with the stock availability of daily essentials initially, but things will be back in stock soon. But BigBasket’s app shows that it has already started running out of basic necessities like wheat, dals and milk.
BigBasket has advised users to not buy more than they need as the disruption in the supply chain for basic necessities like food can make the situation much worse for many quarantined Indians.
Meanwhile, Grofers has gone a step ahead and has decided to cancel all orders that pass the inventory limit. Besides that, the company has also come up with an “edit order” option to allow users to add and remove orders, within eight hours, as per their needs.
As far as inventory maintenance for Gofers is concerned, the company has assured, “Apart from some items which have hard caps on production and particularly those that are sourced from China, most items should continue to be available, although the mode of delivery and supply chains will have to adjust.”
But how long can they keep up? As the confirmed coronavirus cases are rapidly rising, the first thought that comes is to hoard as much as you can before the situation gets much worse. Is India on its way to a different version of the toilet paper crisis?
The stock in brick-and-mortar stores is already being wiped clean. A Quartz report highlighted that restocking has now become a challenge for the brick-and-mortar stores and the getting inventory has been costing much more as well for supermarkets.
But Is It Still Safe To Order Online?
One of the reasons why online sales of groceries have shot up is because of people’s reluctance to go outside with the threat of coronavirus looming over. But with multiple handlers coming into play, is it really safe to buy groceries online?
Online delivery and ecommerce platforms have been ensuring that there is no such dilemma in the user’s mind. Whether it’s Grofers, BigBasket, Flipkart, Swiggy, Zomato, Amazon, Dunzo or any other popular online delivery services, delivery startups are taking precautionary measures to keep both delivery partners and the customers safe.
Both Grofers and BigBasket have ensured that the delivery partners are well aware of the coronavirus pandemic and take precautions. The companies have started disinfecting and sanitising their workstations, warehouses, delivery crates and all other equipment used on a regular basis. Besides this, both have now encouraged cashless payments to keep both customers and delivery executives safe from any possible exposure.
Moreover, the companies are also monitoring the health of employees on a regular basis, and have asked the partners to maintain a safe distance from the customers as well.
Ecommerce companies like Flipkart and Myntra have also come up with similar hygiene practices to manage their deliveries. Ecom Express, which is a logistics solution provider for ecommerce companies, highlighted that they are only working towards minimising the exposure for its delivery partners but have been catering to their mental health as well.
Saurabh Deep Singla, senior vice president and chief human resources officer of Ecom Express, told Inc42, “Along with physical health, mental health has also become vital due to the anxiety that has taken hold amongst people. Stress built by the flood of social media messages on coronavirus must be handled with discretion and we are educating our employees to keep coronavirus-related anxiety under control.”
Meanwhile, Swiggy and Zomato too have introduced “contactless” deliveries to maintain minimum contact between the customers and the delivery partners.