As riders go home amid lockdown, queue for e-grocery orders get longer

When the lockdown was announced, Feroze, who worked as a food delivery agent with in Bengaluru, panicked and rushed home to Davangere, five hours away. Now he wants to return. “I have no income; I am exhausting my savings. If I get a pass somehow, I will go back to work,” says Feroze, who earned Rs 28,000-30,000 a month at the start-up.

Though food delivery orders have reduced on the platform, grocery orders have picked up, says another rider who had just completed his 18th delivery of the day.

Online grocery, which is barely about four per cent of India’s $600-700 billion grocery market, has seen an overnight surge. Zomato, too, has begun these services under Zomato Market.

At store BigBasket, slots get filled within the first 15 minutes of opening, post-midnight. “We are serving 75,000 orders but the number of people seeking to order would be 300,000 to 400,000 a day,” says Hari Menon, co-founder and CEO of the Bengaluru-based company. “All our warehouses are open and we have enough stock. We are short of people, that’s all. And we can’t run a business without people.” Many riders, like Feroze, left for home after the lockdown was announced.

The company is now reaching out to cab aggregators, restaurant associations and other retailers for help. Till then, customers can only keep adding essentials to their carts and wait for delivery slots to open.

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