E-Commerce and its role in lockdown

“Close scrutiny will show that most ‘crisis situations’ are opportunities to either advance or stay where you are.” Maxwell Maltz

The current coronavirus crises have been treating different industries in a different manner and are perfectly justifying the abovementioned quote by famous American cosmetic surgeon Maxwell Maltz. From a business point of view, we can easily correlate the above quote by comparing the second quarter fiscal performance of various industries across the globe. On one hand, the revenue streams of aviation, travel, and tourism, Medium and small scale enterprises, automobile and real estate sectors are taking a major hit due to the pandemic while there are few sectors that are prospering as well.

Healthcare and E-commerce (A part of it to be specific) being a few of those. This pandemic has proved to be a growth opportunity for E-commerce giants such as Bigbasket and Grofers who have taken this as an opportunity to serve humanity along with strengthening their revenue streams. These two e-commerce websites are being presently poised as the key door to door delivery options people are adopting for purchase of their essential need products. This has resulted in an unexpected increase in the orders which such platforms are witnessing. Mr. Hari Menon, CEO, BigBasket, in April, wrote on Twitter that the platform has been catering nearly 2.8 lack orders a day and the demand is manifold as compared to this. He also claimed that the average customer per basket purchase has also gone up by15 to 20 percent. The way in which these companies are handling such an unparalleled surge in orders is setting trends in the online grocery industry across the globe.

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Panic buying by the customers across the country due to sudden and unexpected lockdown by the government is the key reason for such upsurge. Initially, all these e-commerce companies were unsettled with something which they never expected but then they acted swiftly to meet the operational demands across the country. One of the key steps taken by BigBasket was to multiply its supplies in order to balance the supply-demand equilibrium as much as possible.

Secondly, all the door to door delivery service providers witnessed a shortage of delivery workers and in order to reduce this gap, they are planning to hire thousands of workers who can be an aid in such times. Supply chain optimization and analysis through high-end technology is being done through employees working from home so that they can design the best possible path ahead for the company with the aim of revenue optimization and efficient delivery. Following similar lines Flipkart, Amazon and Zomato have also ventured into online grocery space and are delivering essential grocery products in multiple cities across the country. Moreover, multiple startups such as Paytm Mall, Meesho, Snapdea and Shopclues have also diversified their product offerings by including grocery products in their portfolio.

It is more interesting to dwell on the strategies that these companies are adopting during such tough times. Companies like BigBasket adopted the “community selling model” in which they requested the residents of a particular community to order in bulk keeping in mind the needs and requirements of everyone belonging to that community. Owing to this, in a single run the company was able to cater to multiple customers of the same community at a time, thereby requiring less workforce for delivery.

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Moreover, all such e-commerce companies are taking significant care of both the warehouse side of the business as well as the delivery side of the business so that the customers, as well as the staff, are assured that they are safe from infection and the products delivered are of good quality. Contactless delivery was one such initiative that was taken by almost all such e-commerce companies. Some new partnerships were also witnessed as Uber got along with BigBasket for a swift delivery process which is a win-win situation for both the companies. {Aditya Kapse}

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