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The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has caused worldwide distress, with cases piling up everyday, and businesses getting disrupted. However, the world is finding its feet albeit a little slowly. During the initial stages of the virus, people were scrambling with little to no idea about what to do. There was a massive rush with hoarding of essential items, etc. Businesses everywhere had come to a virtual standstill. The images of abandoned cars and planes, unused shopping carts etc, still haunt us today. During this period of seeming inactivity, one industry managed to show growth. It was the delivery business. With people unwilling to go outside their homes, everything started to get delivered. It began slowly with essential items like medicines and groceries, and today has even moved on to liquor.
Here is how the COVID 19 situation has impacted delivery businesses.
Groceries were the first item that naturally people wanted as soon as they found themselves cut off from the outside world. In India, firms like BigBasket and Grofers were already doing business. As the pandemic wore on, food delivery applications like Swiggy also started grocery delivery options. India’s online grocery retail market is set to touch $ 10.5 billion by 2023, rising in percentage from 0.2% to 1.2% of the food market of the country (source).
The constantly rising number of internet and smartphone users, coupled with the ease of purchase, high quality and quick delivery of groceries online, has led to a surge in online grocery shopping which witnessed a boost during the COVID-19 situation. The market has grown during the pandemic so much, that major players like Amazon have started aggressively expanding their Amazon Pantry services in India, offering discounts to consumers and even a pay-per-month subscription method to buy groceries. With the lockdown restrictions slowly getting lifted, people are venturing outside to buy vegetables again, but there are many who would prefer ordering online just because of the convenience. As COVID-19 became more widespread, it was the grocery delivery model that took off first, setting the trend for other delivery businesses to follow.
The food delivery business was already thriving before the pandemic hit, but suffered during the initial stages when total lockdown was imposed. However, the various governments worldwide slowly reviewed and relaxed restrictions, and food delivery was allowed, given that food is an essential item. However, the industry did face a lot of initial losses. Swiggy in India, was forced to lay off around 1000 employees, while closest rival Zomato let go of a number of people (source). Things slowly started to turn around as the rules were dropped a little. Then all of a sudden, there was a surge in orders as people just started relying on outside food. Zomato started recovering economically and even acquired a rival firm UberEats (source). People have been ordering online for a considerable period, and with the lockdown forcing them to stay indoors, their frequency of ordering has only increased. (source).
This is an avenue that opened up a lot when the lockdown was imposed. People had to send items to one another. Hence applications like Dunzo have seen an increased number of downloads. Parcel delivery services have also been started by other applications most notably Swiggy, which will bring you anything from a set of keys to a pile of books. Parcel delivery companies place certain restrictions on the weight and the kind of parcel that you are allowed to send, because the carriers usually use bikes. Hence, the scope is limited in the sense that you can only send small packages. Yet, this business has grown due to its incredible usefulness to the general public during COVID-19.
In India, when the lockdown restrictions were lifted, and liquor retail shops reopened, there were reported lines outside stores of people waiting to pick up their favourite tipple. Picking up on this demand, liquor delivery services began in full earnest. Cashing on the COVID-19 lockdown, Swiggy was one of the earliest players to start online liquor delivery. You need to verify your age and identity and then order whatever you wish. Amazon is to enter the segment soon, while Spencer Retail’s HipBar is another app that allows users to deliver alcohol directly to their homes (source).
Due to the COVID-19 situation, many people found themselves robbed of their weekly/monthly salon/parlour visits. Due to this, there has been a rise in the demand of personal grooming services. UrbanCompany allows you to book a barber’s appointment at your convenience. A person is sent to your house, and takes all the precautions before giving a haircut. The delivery of personal grooming services has opened up an otherwise non-existent market. Now, people are getting pedicures at home as well as deep-tissue massages. The revenues of UrbanCompany have been growing steadily, and the firm has constantly been diversifying its services (source).
Hence, the delivery business has been impacted by COVID-19 in both a positive and a negative way. The first effects were felt at the onset of the pandemic, as it was for every business. However, as various industries started operating again, many people realised that delivery of goods and services is the only way forward. Plus, there is the concept of contactless delivery, which has put fears of people to rest.
While the lockdown might be easing in many parts of the world, consumers are still wary of venturing out. Which is why hyperlocal delivery players have become very important in enabling rapid deliveries for consumers. The items can range from documents to household goods, food, medicines, alcohol, and personal grooming services. As of now, the delivery business industry seems to be growing, and firms are even hiring to fill roles arising out of rapid expansion (source). All this points to an industry poised for growth, both during and after the times of COVID-19.
So, to know more about how you can boost your online delivery business in this pandemic, get in touch with us as soon as possible.