Heavy rain crippled online deliveries in urban centres, including Delhi and the National Capital Region, swathes of which were flooded by the worst deluge in decades over the weekend. This cut off consumers who have come to depend on them for daily essentials, food and medicine over the past few years and especially since the pandemic.
With the drainage system overwhelmed, roads were inundated with water at waist height and more. Most delivery services such as Swiggy, Zomato, Zepto, Blinkit and Milk Basket stopped taking orders as large clusters were unserviceable. Elsewhere, there were extended delays, said executives at ecommerce platforms, besides grocery and restaurant companies.
“Our operations have been affected due to rains in some parts of the country. We hope to be back soon,” food delivery platform Zomato, which also owns instant grocery delivery platform Blinkit, tweeted on Sunday, in response to multiple consumer complaints.
The monsoon has been lashing northern India over the past few days leading to deaths, landslides, property destruction and people rendered homeless.
Restaurants Badly Hit
The rain has been heavier than normal owing to the confluence of two weather systems – monsoon winds and a western disturbance, according to the India Meteorological Department. Himachal Pradesh is the worst hit with about 20 people dead, PTI said.
The weather has impacted services due to infrastructure constraints and difficult road conditions, said a Zomato executive.
“We are trying our best to be serviceable at this time,” this executive said. Restaurants were badly hit with few guests braving the rain in any case.
“Deliveries are more or less at a standstill in rain-impacted cities as logistics are severely hampered,” said Anjan Chatterjee, chairman of Speciality Restaurants, which operates Mainland China and Oh! Calcutta. “Dine-ins are anyway affected because people are unable to move out of their homes. We hope this is a short-term phenomenon and the situation will be normal soon.”
Besides deliveries, executives said operations and supplies were impacted due to the lack of adequate public infrastructure support.
Consumers across most parts of the country took to Twitter about being unable to get essentials delivered at a time when they were unable to move out of their homes. Cities such as Gurgaon announced work from home and online school late on Sunday, putting further pressure on online deliveries.
Responding to aggrieved consumers on delays and rain surcharges over the past few days, Swiggy posted multiple texts on its social media handle: “We levy the rain fee to get more delivery executives on the streets during rains… Delays are due to rains,” and so on.
The rain-infrastructure-led disruptions come at a time when quick commerce platforms such as Swiggy’s Instamart, Zomato’s Blinkit, Zepto and BigBasket’s BBnow have been growing faster than traditional ecommerce platforms, say companies selling daily essentials and grocery products.
“Even though we are seeing the number of consumer orders have increased, as many are working from home and people generally cannot step out, it’s the deliveries that are being disrupted in rain-impacted markets,” said Mayank Shah, senior category head at cookies and confectionery products maker Parle Products.
Ecommerce platforms said they have equipped riders with basic aids such as raincoats and emergency and medical support.
“During monsoons and any other extreme weather conditions, our primary focus is on safety,” said Vikas Sharma, chief operating officer at quick commerce platform Zepto. “While the timelines may be slightly affected given the traffic congestion and waterlogging, our proprietary tech system helps minimise the impact by blocking the affected routes and providing riders with safer alternative routes.”
Industry executives estimate the ecommerce grocery market at Rs 3,000 crore and growing, with Swiggy Instamart servicing close to 450,000 daily orders, while that of Zepto are at 300,000. Blinkit delivered 31.6 million orders in the quarter ended December 2022, Zomato said in a company update.
The India Meteorological Department has predicted heavy rain through the week, citing western disturbances and high-speed winds.
Punjab has ordered closure of all schools till July 13 and the Chandigarh administration has advised public and private offices to consider closing down temporarily.