E-tailer companies see order spikes with fewer delivery execs

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BENGALURU/NEW DELHI: Online grocers Bigbasket and Grofers, besides top e-tailers like Flipkart and Amazon India, are beefing up operations for delivery of essentials as they struggle to fulfil increasing consumer demand due to lack of delivery personnel on the ground. These platforms are operating at about half their original capacity as they struggle with the availability of curfew passes in a few cities.
At the same time, orders on platforms like Bigbasket and Grofers have increased 3-4 times compared to normal days. For instance, Grofers saw 36,000 orders per minute when it opened up 10,000 slots in Mumbai on Thursday, leading to many orders not going through. “There was a setback in the informal workforce. But we are getting back to 60% capacity this week and are hopeful of being 100% in another week,” said Grofers CEO Albinder Dhindsa.
For Flipkart, the situation is improving in many cities. While there are 3 lakh pending orders in Bengaluru and only 200 passes for delivery, in Lucknow delivery of essentials and fresh items has been launched due to easier availability of passes. In Mumbai, there is 60% attendance. In Delhi region the company’s warehouse in nearby Ballabgarh has been sealed as it is near a hotspot.
Flipkart has begun delivering goods sourced from local retailers. It is also looking to use Ninjacart, a startup that sources fruits and vegetables from farmers and in which the Bengaluru-based retailer has a stake, to get more goods. Additionally, it is looking at wholesalers and public distribution systems.
Bigbasket CEO Hari Menon said most of its supply chain issues with local authorities were ironed out, but labour shortage still remains an issue. “We are at 40-50% of our capacity and we are working on more solutions to solve this,” he said. The company was delivering about 45,000 orders a day last week, which is now at 85,000-90,000 as supply chain logjams ease out.
Menon said the company wasn’t cancelling any orders now and is saving some of its delivery capacity to reschedule existing orders. Uber has already started doing some deliveries for the platform, while it is working with both restaurant and retailer associations to use their idle workforce since most of them, as sellers of non-essentials, are shut.
A person aware of the goings-on said Amazon India was facing similar issues on manpower availability. An Amazon India spokesperson said it continues to resume services gradually, and it is operating in select pin codes in 40 cities. On average, most of the online grocers are taking at least 4-5 days to deliver after an order is placed. For Amazon’s Pantry, certain pin codes in Bengaluru, for example, are given a delivery timeline of 7-8 days.



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