Online groceries such as BigBasket and Grofers are expecting to see a further surge in demand in Maharashtra, after the state government introduced stricter curbs on the running of essential offline stores to stem the spread of Covid-19.
The state government notified that shops selling groceries, vegetables, fruits, dairy products, confectionaries and meats will be allowed to operate only for four hours a day. They can do home deliveries between 7am and 8pm.
Both companies said they were putting in place measures to cater to the elevated demand in the state, including hiring additional workers in their supply chains.
“We are already witnessing a surge in demand from the cities which are deeply impacted by the second wave. With the announcement of new guidelines in Maharashtra, we are expecting a further surge in demand,” said a spokesperson for Grofers.
The company added that it had seen a similar, almost two-fold, surge in orders in Delhi after the government there announced a week-long curfew.
An expert tracking the sector said the stricter the government curbs in the offline space, the higher the demand they drive for online platforms, especially for groceries and essential goods.
BigBasket Chief Executive Hari Menon said the platform has been seeing elevated levels of orders since Maharashtra introduced restrictions earlier this month, with demand currently being almost 40% higher in the state when compared to last month.
“Last year this time things were just about starting to fall in place and orders were surging, but like-for-like we’re already doing 10-15% more orders now,” said Menon. “This year we’re a lot more prepared to cater to demand.”
Grofers said it was opening up more delivery slots for consumers every day to cater to the increased demand. BigBasket has implemented a token system where if consumers don’t get a delivery slot, they would get a token which assures them of a slot at a later date.
Both companies also said they were ramping up hiring in the state, while not disclosing the quantum of additional workers they were looking to employ. “This year no one (supply chain workers) is leaving, but the problem we’re facing is that a lot of people are falling ill. So, we’re hiring more now to build capacity,” Menon said.