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#StartupsVsCovid19: How Startups Have Kept India’s Essential Delivery Partners Safe

#StartupsVsCovid19: How Startups Have Kept India’s Essential Delivery Partners Safe

Millions of riders are delivering grocery orders while risking their lives

Face masks and temperature guns have become the new normal for riders

Zomato has made it mandatory for riders to download the Aarogya Setu app

In the last month, a lot has been changed for most Indians, including what they can and cannot order online. However, the job for hyperlocal delivery partners hasn’t changed much — in fact, if anything, delivery startups such as Zomato, Swiggy, BigBasket, Grofers, Dunzo and others have become the focal point of the pandemic life.

Millions of riders of companies like Swiggy, Zomato, BigBasket, and Grofers are still delivering orders while risking their lives, so how have companies kept delivery riders safe in these times?

For one, instead of delivering orders directly to the customer’s hands, they are now dropping them at gates, outside doors and receptions for contactless deliveries, while donning face masks and gloves. At restaurant outlets, delivery partners have to treat hands with sanitizers, while a thermal gun welcomes them for a temperature check before the ride begins. This is the new normal for delivery agents.

In recent weeks, there have been instances of food delivery riders being tested positive for Covid-19. So the hygiene practices followed by delivery startups in India has been under scrutiny. So Inc42 decided to take a look at how each startup is protecting their employees and customers from the wrath of the coronavirus.

Swiggy

Food delivery Swiggy operates in over 500 cities across India. The Gurugram-based startup is taking a slew of measures to ensure that its riders deliver food safely. Swiggy says it has trained riders to follow no-contact delivery while training them on best practices regularly.

Restaurants are also provided with outer packaging to ensure that riders don’t contact the packaged food directly. It has also started providing its riders with free on-call medical consultation and training on best practices.

Swiggy
Image Credits: PTI

Swiggy has provided delivery partners with hygiene equipment such as face masks and hand gloves. For its own brand such as The Bowl Company, Swiggy is checking the body temperature of riders when they arrive to collect orders. Meanwhile, it has advised other restaurant partners to also frequently check body-temperature of riders when they arrive at their doors.

For the financial and medical stability of the riders, Swiggy is also raising INR 10 Cr under the Swiggy Hunger Savior Covid Relief Fund. The riders also Covid-19 insured.

Zomato

Swiggy’s rival Zomato is following pretty much the same measures, but Zomato took the lead over Swiggy in gaining user confidence by displaying the body temperatures of delivery partners on the application and making it mandatory for riders to have the Aarogya Setu app running.

Zomato users can see the temperature of the delivery-partner only after the order has been picked up from the restaurant. Most delivery-partners are showing normal body temperature — 98.4 degrees Fahrenheit.

Zomato body temperature

According to Zomato, thermal sensing devices have been made available at thousands of restaurants to check body temperatures of delivery-partners before they pick up the order. The food delivery unicorn says that pickup of orders is only allowed if body temperature of the delivery-partner is normal.

Meanwhile, Zomato has also made it mandatory for all the riders to download the central government’s Aarogya Setu application. The app is being used by the government to trace the spread of the pandemic and educate people on the deadly virus. Zomato has disabled taking cash on delivery to ensure social distancing. Covid-19 insurance has been added to the insurance plans of riders as well.

It is also running a fund for riders to provide financial support to riders. Zomato said that it has more than 250K delivery partners in 500+ cities but the ongoing crisis has affected them adversely as almost 350 cities have little to no business. The situation has left 100K riders with zero earnings.

Dunzo

For Bengaluru-based hyperlocal delivery startup Dunzo, checking temperature of riders frequently is a problem since they deliver meat, food, groceries and other household items from a range of establishments. Dunzo even lets individuals send parcels to each other.

Meanwhile, some retail outlets, from which riders pick up products, are checking the body temperatures of Dunzo’s delivery partners. The startup has provided a hygiene pack that allows riders to practise precautionary measures. It has also come up with a separate packaging system for the delivery of grocery and essentials.

Dunzo has also set up a fund for drivers. In partnership with Milaap, the startup is raising around INR 3 Cr to be distributed among 18K riders. As of now, INR 40 Lakh have been raised as most of the team members have contributed 75-100% of the salaries. The corpus will be used for providing insurance cover for any testing or medical expenses incurred by a partner.

BigBasket

BigBasket, one of the largest grocery delivery players, has become a crucial app in many parts of India. After initial hiccups in the operations, BigBasket is now aiming to meet the demand for groceries and staples in most of the cities it operates in.

At the same time, Bengaluru-based BigBasket is ensuring that everyone who enters or leaves the warehouses, including delivery-partners, is scanned via thermal scanners. The startup claims that all warehouse employees handling fruits and vegetables are using disposable face masks and gloves.

For payment on delivery orders, BigBasket is adopting various contactless procedures for delivery. For instance, BigBasket is taking cash on delivery in envelopes provided by the Centre for Environment Education. In card-on-delivery option, a pre-sanitised card-swiping device in a transparent cover is provided to users. The riders are also advised to maintain social distance and deliver the products just outside the doorstep.

Grofers

Gurugram-based Grofers, archrival of BigBasket, claims to have implemented stringent screening criteria, including temperature checks, to ensure that employees stay in good health.

Grofers said that it is taking all precautionary measures advised by the World Health Organisation to maintain hygiene in the supply chain. All the employees have been advised to use sanitisers and wash hands with soap frequently.

Grofers

If anyone shows symptoms of Covid-19 then Grofers advises them quarantine and practice social distancing for a period of 14 days. The startup claims to be monitoring all the delivery personnel. It is also providing them training on how to handle sealed crates while masks and hand sanitizers for individual use are given to these riders.

Recently, Grofers launched ‘last temperature check’ that helps users to get details of the last monitored temperature of our delivery personnel when they picked your products from a partner store.

Flipkart

Walmart-owned ecommerce major Flipkart, which is now focussing only on delivering essential products, has taken many measures to prevent the whole supply chain from the virus. All executives at Flipkart are required to wear face masks while making deliveries and employees are also provided with Covid-19 health cover along with their families.

Flipkart
Workers maintain social distancing at Flipkart Fulfilment Centre in Telangana

Flipkart claims to conduct sanitization and deep-cleaning in the warehouses at regular intervals. Regular thermal temperature checks are also a must at the warehouses. All employees who are unwell are being advised to rest with all assurance of medical support. Flipkart is also giving full-time contractors and employees paid leave when needed.

Similar to others, Flipkart has provided riders with face masks while they are also advised to maintain social distancing practice during customer interactions.

Amazon

Amazon warehouses have new working conditions with employees at a two-meter distance from each other to maintain social distancing. The facilities are sanitised at regular intervals. On the customer front, Amazon has temporarily suspended cash on the delivery payments option. It is also not taking any signatures from the customers as usual, to keep up with contactless delivery standards. Temperature checks of employees are also part of the measures followed by Amazon at the warehouses.

Meanwhile, reusable masks are given to delivery service partners and other partners in the fulfilment network. Amazon has recommended all associates to wear reusable face masks when they are out on the road during deliveries.