Preeti Mehta, a Mumbai-based marketing professional has been on a compulsory quarantine for the last few days ever since her organisation made it mandatory for all employees to work from home. There has been panic all-over due to the rising numbers of COVID-19 incidents and Mehta says that the shelves of the corner-store near her home are literally empty as consumers are hoarding basic necessities such as milk, eggs, rice and lentils as they fear if the number of COVID-19 outbreak increases, shops may close down. "I have started buying even basic items such as bread and eggs on e-commerce platforms such as BigBasket or Grofers," says Mehta, who usually buys her grocery from either of these platforms every month.
HR Professional, Aditya Mittal, who finds it relaxing to shop for exotic ingredients at a gourmet food store close to his home, is also getting used to buying them online. "It's better to stay safe. I prefer to personally shop for my ingredients, but given the current situation, I have started buying online." No wonder e-commerce grocery platforms are talking about doubling of orders over the past few weeks. Consumers are increasingly taking to online grocery platforms to even buy perishables such as milk and eggs. The other category that is seeing increased traction online, is of course handwash, sanitisers and soaps.
Albinder Dhindsa, Co-Founder, Grofers, says while the number of new users on his platform has increased by 14-15 per cent, the number of orders from the existing users has doubled over the past week. Grofers which works with local stores for last mile delivery has asked them to deploy additional delivery staff.
Similarly, BigBasket also claims that there has been a 2x growth in traffic and revenue and there has been a 15-20 per cent increase in basket value. Increased traffic has led to supply chain disruptions and delivery delays, which according to the Big Basket spokesperson is being taken care off. "Although we faced some disruption over the last three days, we have taken corrective action and have geared up for supplies to meet the increased demand. Increased demand is in essentials such as staples, atta and dal, fruits and vegetables, we are in control because the predominant share is from our private label products. We are not facing shortages in FMCG branded products except in the case of sanitisers. In effect, supply will not be an issue," says the spokesperson.
"Our supply continues to be fine. We will have an issue only if this situation continues for over three months," adds Dhindsa of Grofers. E-commerce grocery shopping is booming in the US too. According to e-commerce ad tech provider, Pacvue, there have been surges in Amazon searches for products like hand sanitiser, and anti-bacterial soaps. In fact, the Amazon warehouse in the US is facing inventory issues as more and more consumers are shopping for grocery online. "You will also notice that some of our delivery promises are longer than usual," the site says. "We are working around the clock with our selling partners to ensure availability on all of our products, and bring on additional capacity to deliver all of your orders."
E-commerce grocery retail in India, according to a RedSeer Report, is currently 0.2 per cent of the overall $550 billion Indian food and grocery retail market in India, and is expected to grow at a whopping 55 per cent to reach 1.2 per cent of the overall market by 2023. Retail experts believe that the current spurt in growth of online grocery platforms will help in their long-term growth too. "E-commerce grocery would surely jump at least for the next few weeks and would stay at a higher share in the near future as people understand the ease," points out senior retail industry expert, Govind Shrikhande.