HomeBusinessDelivery race among Indian grocery startups brings road safety risks

Delivery race among Indian grocery startups brings road safety risks

NEW DELHI : Indian grocery startups are luring tech-savvy clients with the promise of deliveries inside 10 minutes, sparking a increase in “quick commerce”, however heating up considerations about road safety as bike riders scramble to satisfy tight deadlines.

Competition is already intense in India’s $600-billion grocery retailing trade, populated by the likes of Amazon, Walmart’s Flipkart and Indian billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance.

Now SmoothBank-backed Blinkit and its rival Zepto are racing to rent workers and open shops of their bid to seize a share of the market by providing the comfort of supply in 10 minutes, far decrease than the hours, or days opponents take.

Their mission: pack groceries inside a couple of minutes at so-called darkish shops, or small warehouses in densely populated neighbourhood buildings, and ship bike riders to close by areas with about seven minutes to spare.

“It’s a threat to the larger players,” Ashwin Mehta, a lead IT sector analyst at India’s Ambit Capital, instructed Reuters. “If people get used to 10 minutes, those companies offering 24-hour deliveries will be forced to reduce their timelines.”

As exercise grows, analysis agency RedSeer says India’s fast commerce sector, value $300 million final 12 months, will swell 10-15 occasions to the touch $5 billion by 2025.

Blinkit and Zepto, began by two 19-year-old dropouts from Stanford, have caught customers’ fancy, satisfying cravings for meals and impulse purchasing, in addition to pressing wants for day by day provides.

“This is very convenient, it has made a lifestyle change,” stated Sharmistha Lahiri, who now turns to Blinkit to fill the hole when components out of the blue run out in her kitchen, from tomatoes for soup to chocolate icing for a cake.

The 75-year-old, who lives within the metropolis of Gurugram close to the capital, New Delhi, was a eager consumer of Amazon and Indian conglomerate Tata’s on-line grocer BigBasket, however prizes Blinkit’s fast response in such conditions.

The unbeatable comfort of fast deliveries is clear in Europe and the United States, the place firms corresponding to Turkey’s Getir and Germany’s Gorillas are increasing quick, however India’s accident-prone roads make fast commerce a harmful enterprise.

“Ten minutes is very sharp,” stated a former road secretary, Vijay Chhibber. “If there was a (road safety) regulator, it would have said this can’t be a company’s unique selling point.”

Blinkit and Zepto didn’t reply to queries from Reuters.


Even in cities, most roads are riddled with potholes, whereas cattle or different animals straying into visitors current a frequent problem for motorists, who typically violate primary guidelines.

Last 12 months, the World Bank stated India had a dying each 4 minutes on its roads. Crashes kill about 150,000 individuals annually.

All the 13 drivers for Blinkit and Zepto whom Reuters interviewed in the important thing cities of Mumbai, New Delhi and Gurugram stated they confronted strain to satisfy supply deadlines, which regularly led to dashing, for concern of being rebuked by retailer managers.

“We get five to six minutes and I feel tense and fear for my life,” stated one Blinkit driver, who sought anonymity.

In August, Blinkit’s chief govt stated on Twitter that riders weren’t penalised and will ship “at their own pace and rhythm,” as darkish shops are at all times close to vacation spot websites.

Delivery riders disagreed. In their rush, lots of them instructed Reuters, they mark orders as having been delivered even earlier than they get to the vacation spot.

And if a buyer complained in regards to the observe, they confronted a penalty of 300 Indian rupees ($4.03). A Blinkit app screenshot offered by one driver confirmed the time period, MDND, or “Marked Delivered, Not Delivered” used to designate such gadgets.

Frustration was additionally on show within the dialog on a WhatsApp group of Blinkit riders in Mumbai reviewed by Reuters.

“Ban this 10-minute (delivery),” stated one consumer, after footage had been posted of a rider stated to have been injured in a deadline rush.

The considerations mirror the darkish facet of India’s booming gig economic system, during which employees typically say they really feel shortchanged or battle robust working circumstances.


Blinkit calls its service “indistinguishable from magic” and says it desires to turn out to be a $100-billion enterprise.

Zepto has been valued at $570 million and has set its eyes on turning into a $20-billion firm, already backed by buyers corresponding to U.S.-based Glade Brook Capital.

The instantaneous supply market is a $50-billion alternative, India’s largest offline retailer, Reliance, stated this month, when it invested in Dunzo, one other Indian startup that runs a 19-minute supply service.

But, not like most overseas firms that cost $2 to $3 a supply, deliveries by Indian startups are largely free in a nation with a inhabitants of 1.4 billion potential clients.

“With free delivery, the business is unlikely to be viable,” stated T.N. Hari, who heads human sources at on-line grocery BigBasket, which delivers most orders inside 5 hours.

“And with a delivery fee that makes it viable, the market size is likely to be small.”

For now, Indians are hooked.

Deliveries on New Year’s Eve included greater than 43,000 cans of fizzy drinks, a Blinkit investor stated on Twitter, including, “33,440 condoms were ordered on @letsblinkit today. Someone ordered 80 condoms in one go.”

(Reporting by Aditya Kalra in New Delhi and Abhirup Roy in Mumbai; Additional reporting by Aditi Shah, Chandini Monnappa and Chris Thomas; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)



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