As Covid second wave surges, wait for e-grocery delivery gets longer – Times of India

NEW DELHI: As restrictions return across major cities, it’s déjà vu for consumers looking to place online orders of grocery and other essentials. E-commerce platforms such as Amazon India, Flipkart and e-grocers such as Bigbasket and Grofers are seeing a surge in demand. They are also opening a limited number of slots for deliveries.
This has impacted delivery timelines — from a day to four days, depending on the city and the pin code. There is no panic buying yet this year for staples like flour, rice and pulses besides disinfectants, hand sanitisers, and diapers.
The development comes as governments are urging people across metros to stay at home, and states like Maharashtra allowing people to move only for essentials needs, shutting down malls and restaurants (for dine-in services). Delhi had its first weekend curfew this week.
This is almost a replay of last year when the whole country was under a stringent lockdown. There was an 80-100% jump in online orders back then. The spike in orders currently is not as much as in March last year because the current restrictions are localised and do not apply to all major cities yet. But the trend remains steady with more demand for essentials online.
While e-commerce firms are better prepared than last year, there is still an impact with longer delivery estimates, industry executives said. Even in Bengaluru, which hasn’t put stringent restrictions, e-commerce platforms are cautioning users that deliveries may take longer than estimated.
“In Delhi, things are still fine but there is a significant surge in orders across Mumbai compared to last year. We are trying to open new slots but have to be practical about it since consumers will get upset if deliveries are delayed by more than a few hours,” an executive from an e-grocery platform said. Senior executives across online platforms are in a virtual huddle to overcome logistical problems in different cities.
“We are working across the operations network to enable faster deliveries to customers,” a spokesperson for Amazon India said.
“As an essential service provider, we have not faced any last-mile challenges and are working closely with local authorities to prevent any potential disruptions. Since there is a movement of migrant workforce due to the current situation, we are hiring additional warehouse and delivery staff to address the surge in demand and serve as many households as we can in this time of need. We are also opening up slots on the app every day for our customers, while prioritising the supply of essential products,” a Grofers spokesperson said.
Bigbasket and Flipkart did not immediately respond to TOIs’s query on the matter.
“Companies are more prepared this time around but the issue of allowing essentials only in cities like Mumbai will be hard. At this point, anything can be essential for a user. There is no panic buying for now and the next few weeks will be critical (as to how this plays out),” said Satish Meena, senior forecast analyst at Forrester, a market research firm.

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