Swiggy ready for grocery services in 150 major cities

Madhav Chanchani | TNN

Bangalore: Swiggy's operations may have been interrupted since the Janta Curfew was announced on Sunday. But the online food company has said it is willing to start delivering groceries in up to 150 major cities across the country if the supply chain begins to open up. It currently delivers food from restaurants, but also has a delivery service called Stores in two cities: Gurugram and Bengaluru.

The company is willing to leverage its 2.5 lakh fleet in 500 cities to deliver the essentials, as the country remains on hold until April 14, so that consumers can stay home as recommended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The government also said that online delivery of both cooked food and groceries is an essential service, which should remain open.

This is a time of war. We can open in as many cities as necessary as it will take 1-2 days, said Swiggy's Chief Operating Officer Vivek Sundar. He added that the path for this must be cleared: supermarkets must remain open, the delivery fleet must operate without harassment, and the grocery supply chain from factories to stores should not be disrupted. Of Swiggy's entire fleet, 80-85% is currently inactive at the moment, according to Sundar, which can be leveraged for grocery delivery. During normal operating days, Swiggy was making more than 1.5 million deliveries per day as of the beginning of this month.

Swiggy and rival Zomato have been struggling with operations as local authorities in major cities have closed restaurants, stopped supplying trucks to kitchens, and delivery staff have also been beaten by police.

Sundar said Swiggy has been in talks with police commissioners, the political leadership and bureaucrats in all the cities where they are operating to begin deliveries.

The call to these state governments has been to allow anyone who is associated with food manufacturing (cloud kitchen and restaurant staff, delivery staff, and vendors who supply raw materials such as vegetables and meat) to operate. But Sundar optimistically estimated that food delivery operations could normalize over the weekend.

“Our cancellation rates were 10 times higher than those of the restaurant staff or that the delivery man was unable to move. We are still fighting with defeated police officers on the ground, even in cities like Bengaluru, which is in the best operating state in the country at the moment, he said. Operations in Tamil Nadu, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh have been closed entirely as state governments, despite the central government directive to allow online deliveries, have called for services to be stopped.