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Zomato will now deliver groceries as food orders spiral down amid coronavirus outbreak

The Gurugram based startup is in discussions with e-grocers Grofers and BigBasket for delivering groceries.

Photo by Gary Sandoz on Unsplash

As restaurants across India shut down and food delivery companies see a drop in daily orders due to the spread of novel coronavirus, Alibaba-backed Zomato is in talks with online grocers Bigbasket and Grofers to sell FMCG and daily essential products on its platform.

“Offline stores that work with Grofers will be listed on Zomato’s app. Consumers can then place an order on Zomato and deliveries will be fulfilled by them. They will start the pilot in Delhi NCR, to begin with..,” a person in the know told local media Economic Times (ET). Tentatively dubbed as Zomato Market, the service is expected to go live by next week.

A query sent to Zomato didn’t elicit a response at the time of publishing this report. We will update the report once we receive a response.

This could be a win-win situation for both the parties as online grocery companies are trying hard to meet the soaring demand for grocery and everyday products as Indians begin panic buying. The delivery time of Bigbasket and Grofers have increased by a day or two.

In an earlier interaction with KrASIA, SoftBank-backed Grofers founder Albinder Dhindsa said, “Distribution is going to be the biggest pain point for us which can put our systems under pressure. We have informed our customers about the delay and they understand the uniqueness of the situation.”

Food ordering apps are seeing at least 20% dip in orders as customers avoid getting in contact with delivery executives and prefer to eat home-made food. These companies are attempting contact-less delivery to mitigate the situation.

Zomato’s arch-rival Swiggy has already forayed into the soon-to-be USD 10.5 billion e-grocery sector mid-last year with Swiggy Stores.

As the fear of a nationwide lockdown gained strength, the demand for grocery products went up even further, not only in big cities but also beyond metros. Bigbasket has reportedly seen the demand double last week across cities, with order values going up 20% on average, while Grofers registered orders going up 45% by number and 18% by value.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his address to the nation on Thursday, said there is no need to panic and buy more than required. Local media reports said many retailers and consumer goods companies saw their sales more than double across cities.

The coronavirus cases in the country have gone up to 195 with four casualties. Modi, in his address, has requested people to observe self-quarantine on March 22 between 7 am and 9 pm.