Social distancing, quarantine, lockdown and janata curfew — the four major remedial measures to combat Covid-19 — have posed new challenges for the online grocers. Bulk purchase, demand-supply mismatch and paucity of logistical support have put e-stores and buyers in a fix.
Online supermarket BigBasket said, “We have shortlisted and prioritized essential items such as atta, dal, canned food, ready-to-cook food and spices. We are in touch with our manufacturing partners and supply chains to ensure quick arrangements in case we face momentary gaps.”
The online stores are at a loss trying to address operational challenges. Confused with the delivery delay, Nanda Dutta, a homemaker in Behala, placed orders on two e-grocery mobile apps simultaneously. “I can’t take a risk at this hour. Both the apps have scheduled delivery for the weekend. I doubt that I will get it at all.”
Allaying consumers’ concerns, BigBasket clarified: “The orders for non-essential items placed earlier will be delivered while keeping essentials a priority. We are not facing shortages in FMCG products, barring sanitizers.” It had earlier notified that deliveries may be delayed or some items may not be delivered.
E-grocery giant Grofers requested its customers to opt for “considerate shopping”. The company’s co-founder and CEO Albinder Dhindsa said, “We are discouraging hoarding of essential items and discontinuing promotions.” Tamal Kumar Paul from Shovabazar, however, justified hoarding. “It is not a crime to gear up for a constant lockdown. A stock of flour , lentils and rice is important,” he said.
“We saw around 80% growth from Kolkata, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Pune and Ahmedabad until now,” Dhindsa added. Grofers has distributed masks and sanitizers for their supply chain professionals.
Spencer’s acknowledged delivery slots on its app were choked. “We are trying to open slots but they are immediately getting filled up as more people are opting for online delivery. We shall open up additional slots in the next few days to increase the capacity,” said Spencer’s regional head Kaushik Ganguly.
Consumers are finding it difficult to connect with Future group’s Big Bazaar chain over phone. The group’s regional head Manish Agarwal advised customers to leave WhatsApp messages. “We will revert to customers who leave a message and give service,” he said.
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