The company is willing to leverage its fleet of 2.5 lakh across 500 cities to deliver essentials as the country remains in a lockdown till April 14, so that consumers can stay at home as Prime Minister Narendra Modi has recommended. The government also said that online delivery of both cooked food and groceries is an “essential service”, which should be allowed to remain open.
“This is wartime. We can open in as many cities as needed as it will take 1-2 days,” said Swiggy COO Vivek Sundar. He added that the pathway for it needs to be cleared — grocery stores should remain open, delivery fleet must operate without harassment, and supply chain of groceries from factories to shops must not get disrupted. Of Swiggy’s entire fleet, 80-85% is currently idle right now, according to Sundar, which can be leveraged for grocery delivery. During normal operational days, Swiggy was doing over 1.5 million deliveries a day until earlier this month.
Swiggy and rival Zomato have been struggling with operations as local authorities in major cities have shut down restaurants, stopped trucks supplying materials to kitchens and delivery personnel have also taken a beating from the police.
Sundar said Swiggy has been in discussions with police commissioners, political leadership and bureaucrats in all the cities where they are operational to get deliveries started.
The appeal to these state governments has been to allow anyone who is associated with the making of food — staff of cloud kitchens & restaurants, delivery personnel, and vendors supplying raw material like vegetables & meat — to be allowed to operate. But Sundar optimistically estimated that food delivery operations may normalise by the weekend.
“Our cancellation rates were 10x normal rate as restaurant staff was stuck or the delivery boy was not allowed to move. We are still struggling with beat cops on the ground even in cities like Bengaluru, which is in the best operational state in the country right now,” he said. Operations in Tamil Nadu, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh have been completely shut as state governments, despite central government’s directive to allow online deliveries, have asked the services to stop.