Despite the central government’s order including grocery delivery apps in essential services during the nationwide Covid-19 lockdown, a survey shows that the local retail or Kirana stores have emerged as the bigger saviours.
Four surveys were conducted by social networking site LocalCircles from the 22nd till the 30th of March which tracked the availability of essential goods on e-commerce sites and retail stores for different dates in which it received over 17,000 responses from consumers located in 181 districts of India.
The survey for March 25-26 revealed that only 39% of those who ordered essential goods via an e-commerce app could get them and 57% of those who visited retail stores could buy nearly what they needed.
While 25% of the consumers were able to buy most of the items from e-commerce apps on March 27-28, 15% faced problems as the online stores were out of stock. Only 16% reported that they got everything easily through online grocery apps.
At retail stores, 25% of the respondents said they got all the items easily whereas 35% said they got most of the items. While the items got out of stock for 17% of the consumers, 5% reported not have been able to buy anything.
As the central government came with new guidelines on 26th March for the delivery of essential goods, the percentage of consumers able to find essential goods via e-commerce apps increased from 39% to 41% on March 27-28. The local retailers showed a little improvement with the sale of essential items increasing from 57% to 60%.
The survey also outlined the various possible reasons for the inefficiency of e-commerce apps.
Unclear guidelines and the confusion during the initial days of lockdown had hampered e-commerce logistics and delivery of essential goods during the crisis as local authorities and police barred the operations of firms like MilkBasket, BigBasket, Swiggy Stores and Grofers.
Although the central government and state authorities sat down with the e-commerce platforms to ease the last mile roadblocks, obtaining curfew passes for the delivery personnel is still a challenge in many parts of the country.
The other challenge is missing manpower. It is getting hard to get delivery executives back to work due to the fear of spreading pandemic.
As a result, most e-commerce platforms are not accepting orders and if an order does get accepted, the time to deliver is often 5 to 6 days away.
Amidst these challenges, some other big names have entered the online grocery segment with Meesho, Snapdeal, BharatPe, and ShopClues announcing their plans as demand for grocery delivery witnesses a massive surge.