Amid lockdown, Punjabis bank on food apps for groceries

Zomato, Swiggy see significant increase in orders

Amid lockdown, Punjabis bank on food apps for groceries

Illustration: Sandeep Joshi

Vijay C Roy

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 3

Amid lockdown, the work load on food delivery apps such as Zomato and Swiggy has increased manifold in Punjab as people in large numbers, especially in the urban cities, are banking on these apps for their requirement of essential commodities, especially groceries, fruits and vegetables.

The state government had tied up with Zomato and Swiggy to facilitate supply of essential goods at the customers’ doorsteps during the prevailing restrictions. These apps have serviced around 32,400 orders till today since the inception of their service on March 27.

The service, which was started in two cities with a handful of local kirana stores, is now available in 20 cities with 240 stores on their platform. Around 1,100 delivery boys of both the firms are engaged in the delivery of goods. Passes were also issued to authorised persons for the supply of essential goods.

Zomato and Swiggy are food delivery apps but the Punjab government requested them to commence the delivery of groceries in view of the lockdown. Acceding to the government’s request, they started delivering essential commodities in the state. As small stores don’t have the requisite infrastructure to deliver the goods at the customers’ doorsteps, the tie-up facilitated them to reach out to larger customer base.

“We wrote to the respective Deputy Commissioners and asked them to provide a list of kirana stores operational in their area. After having tied up with the local stores, these delivery apps uploaded that list on their respective platforms and started delivering goods at the customers’ doorsteps. This is a win-win situation for customers, store owners and delivery boys amid the lockdown,” said Rajat Agarwal, CEO, Invest Punjab. Invest Punjab is acting as a facilitator.

Only those department stores are listed on these apps which have a GST number. According to sources, the delivery apps charge around 5-7% per delivery from the store owners.

Swiggy is catering to 11 districts, including Amritsar, Ludhiana, Patiala, Bathinda, Jalandhar, Mohali, Phagwara, while Zomato is catering to 14 districts, including Amritsar, Ludhiana, Khanna, Jalandhar, Patiala, Sangrur. Both the apps are covering almost all the major cities of the state.

“We are soon planning to extend this service to all 80 municipal towns and another 10 towns which are not in the ambit of municipal committees,” Agarwal said.

Both companies, which have a cumulative delivery workforce, are looking to leverage the same and explore opportunities to tie up with more number of stores and extend their service to more cities in the state. According to Agarwal, these firms are also helping stores in bringing their business back on track.

Earlier, the administration had allowed kirana stores to deliver groceries at homes, but in the absence of requisite infrastructure, residents across the cities were facing problems. Hence Zomato, Swiggy and other e-commerce players were roped in as they already have an experience of home delivery.

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