Super-fast delivery greeted with scepticism

What about safety? Super-fast delivery greeted with scepticism

As Dunzo starts 19-minute grocery delivery and Grofers aims for 10 minutes, Bengalureans question the need for such speed

Some Bengalureans are calling out the race for instant grocery delivery.

Last week on Twitter, they were criticising Dunzo’s latest 19-minute grocery service, called Dunzo Daily, and Grofers’ plans of 10-minute delivery.

This puts undue pressure on delivery personnel, and forces them to drive rashly, they said, tagging the Bengaluru traffic police and urging them to intervene.

Who needs groceries so urgently, one wondered. A 10-minute ambulance service or delivery of medicines makes sense, some said, but why groceries? Only one user on that Twitter thread was happy about receiving tea powder in 10 minutes. 

The sentiment is similar offline. Salwa Sheikh, a 26-year-old homemaker from Okalipuram, says, “I’m an avid user of these apps but a 10-15 minute delivery is unnecessary. Why the race when most of these products are not for emergency use?” 

Express delivery will aggravate the culture of convenience and increase our carbon footprint, says Cynthia John, who runs a gymnastic centre.

“These startups often source products from hypermarkets but I think we should be supporting our local shops during the pandemic,” says the 45-year-old from Singasandra, who orders groceries once in two weeks.

Nivedha Sudhir from Vidyaranyapura is on the other side of the debate. As long as the safety, earnings and incentives of the delivery personnel are not compromised, she has no complaints.

“When working from home, you either forget to go grocery shopping or get too tired at the end of the day. It is convenient when things get delivered quickly so you can whip up meals during breaks,” says the 23-year-old corporate employee. 

Delivery agents speak

A Dunzo agent told Metrolife that the 19-minute service hasn’t rushed things up.

“We were anyway delivering within 20-30 minutes before. The pick-up and drop locations are usually within a radius of 6 km,” he explains.

They don’t receive incentives for delivering on time but they also don’t face pay cuts if they can’t make it, says his colleague, who joined the team recently.

“We do 12 to 15 deliveries and make approximately Rs 1,000 every day, based on the distance we cover” he adds.

Will the race last?

Some feel express delivery will fizzle out once Bengaluru’s traffic returns after the pandemic. 

Entrepreneur Srinivas Madhavam drew attention to another problem. “It takes five to seven minutes just to deliver a package from the gate to the doorstep in a community of 1,000 flats, and six to eight minutes in a 2,000 flat-community,” says the entrepreneur whose startup Exprs is addressing this problem.

“In Bengaluru, we deliver two packets from the gate to the doorstep every minute.” 

Madhavam believes on-demand groceries are here to stay but whether these startups can deliver in record time across all pin codes in Bengaluru, he is not sure.

“Jokr does 15-minute delivery in the US. So instant delivery is a global phenomenon, not just an Indian race,” he concludes. 

What they promise

Dunzo Daily: 19 to 29 min

Swiggy Instamart: 15 to 45 min

Grofers: 15 min, aiming for 10 min

BB Express: Within 5 hours

How they do it 

The demand for Dunzo’s 19-minute delivery is growing by 25% week on week, the team told Metrolife over email. “Our micro-fulfillment centres are located in high-demand neighbourhoods and are equipped with 2,000-plus products that customers order on a daily and weekly basis. The combination of speed and selection helps us achieve ultra-fast deliveries,” they said and added that their new service was a response to “customer feedback”. 

Safety concerns

According to a traffic police official, very few delivery agents ride fast or break rules. “However, lately I have noticed that many don’t wear their uniforms or carry vehicle documents,” she says. Dunzo said it provides accidental insurance coverage to delivery agents. Swiggy agents confirmed they had similar coverage. 

Customer hostility

Agents of a company doing 15-45 minute delivery since last year spoke about the implications of heightened expectations.

“Customers often get mad at us if we get late in delivering the groceries. They give us bad ratings, which affects our overall rating and incentives. I feel companies make false promises and we pay the price,” said one.

“Even when customers don’t complain, managers block our IDs if they notice we are late. Recently, they blocked four agents,” he says.

‘We’ve had zero reported accidents’

Grofers founder Albinder Dhindsa has tweeted a point-by-point rebuttal of the hate his 10-minute delivery service is getting. Our stores are so densely located that we can deliver 90% of orders within 15 minutes… Our in-store tech allows orders to be packed in under 2.5 minutes... We have had zero reported rider accidents, he wrote. Not all companies are built on the back of exploitation of the riders, he signed off the letter.

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