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COVID-19 lockdown: Surge in online purchases slows down deliveries

Delivery time has increased from a few hours to four days in Bengaluru

Bengaluru and many tier-2 and tier-3 cities of Karnataka have been witnessing an unprecedented surge in online orders for groceries and food items over the last five days.

Many households in Bengaluru are planning to depend on home deliveries (34% via e-com sites and 16% from local stores) as their primary channel of purchase in the next three months, indicating a quantum jump from 21% in February and 33% in March this year, as per data shared by LocalCircles, a community platform that tracks data across spaces.

Harish Bijoor, founder of Harish Bijoor Consults Inc., said, “The word lockdown provokes a sentiment to stock up. And that is exactly what is happening today.”

As a result, many app-based e-grocers are reporting a sudden spike in orders. Online grocer BigBasket reported a huge surge in orders in many cities, including Bengaluru, and consequently it is now taking multiple days, up to five days in some cases, to deliver orders instead of its usual same day/next day delivery schedule.

Hari Menon, CEO and co-founder of BigBasket, said, “The whole team right now is working towards getting deliveries back to normal. Till April 26, we did not have any delivery issues in Bengaluru until the government sprung this lockdown on us.”

Shoppers on Amazon Fresh, Flipkart Supermarket, Grofers and JioMart are also facing delays in delivery. Amazon Fresh now takes up to three days to deliver orders from its usual three to six-hour delivery capability. JioMart takes four days from earlier two days, and Grofers and Flipkart Supermart take up to four days from two days earlier.

However, customers on food platforms, such as Zomato and Swiggy, are not witnessing any unusual delay in delivery.

“Most grocers are unprepared for a flood of orders. They are fine stretching the limit of deliveries by as much as 30%. The current demand for stock and hoard possibly means a 120% delivery stretch for e-grocers,” estimated Mr. Bijoor.

“This demand surge is putting stress on the delivery times of major e-grocery providers whose promised delivery time has increased from a few hours to many days in Bengaluru, and they will need to scale up to meet this surge,” said Sachin Taparia, founder & chairman, LocalCircles.

According to K. Vaitheeswaran, CEO at city-based AGAIN Drinks, although there is some delay in delivery of orders, the supply chain is intact. “However, in the next few weeks, we will see more stress coming on the supply chain and consequently delivery circles could get even longer,” he said.

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