Grofers, BigBasket see orders soaring as virus lockdown shuts malls

PTI, Mar 17, 2020, 10:34 AM IST

New Delhi: Online grocery platforms Grofers and BigBasket are witnessing up to two-fold growth in purchases as authorities in multiple cities close malls and shopping places to contain the coronavirus pandemic.

The e-tailers said they are shoring up supplies amid the sudden increase in demand due to panic buying across a number of cities in the last couple of days.

These companies are witnessing a very high demand for products in the personal hygiene category as well as immunity-boosting items such as honey and ayurvedic products.

“In the last couple of days, we have seen what we may call panic buying across a number of cities and categories. Cities like Mumbai, Bangalore, Pune, and Ahmedabad have seen a higher surge with nearly 80 percent growth followed by Delhi NCR and Hyderabad at a 60 percent spike in business for a 75 percent growth in national business,” said Grofers Co-Founder and CEO Albinder Dhindsa.

“We have seen a rise in both the number of orders at 45 percent as well as order value at 18 percent,” he added.

Alibaba-backed BigBasket said it has witnessed two-fold growth in traffic and revenue. It has also witnessed an increase of 15-20 percent in its basket value.

Though BigBasket has faced “some disruption” in its supply chain in the last three days, the company said it has taken corrective action and has “geared up for supplies to meet the increased demand”.

On delivery delays, BigBasket said, “We will face some constraints for a few more days because it takes time to build capacity in terms of storage, delivery fleet, and people. Our teams are working hard to streamline this and we will be back on track very soon.”

Grofers said supply has not been an issue for it so far. “However, we are still bumping up capabilities and hiring more people to ensure availability and access to critical goods. We are also working with more manufacturing partners to scale the supply basis demand while requesting customers to opt for considerate shopping so that shelves remain stocked for everyone,” said Dhindsa.

Dhindsa said in the personal hygiene category, Grofers has seen a demand surge of 400 percent in sanitizers, 120 percent in hand washes and 70 percent in soaps followed by floor cleaners.

“Immunity boosting items such as honey and ayurvedic products like chyawanprash have seen a growth of 60 percent. High demand has been observed in disposable categories such as toilet paper and tissues. Lately, we are also observing panic buying and hoarding of essential commodities like atta, sugar, pulses and rice,” he said.

BigBasket has also witnessed increased demand for essential items such as staples, atta and dal, fruits and vegetables

“We are in control because the predominant share is from our private label products. We are not facing shortages in FMCG branded products except in the case of sanitizers. In effect, supply will not be an issue,” BigBasket said.

Grofers said it has observed hoarding tendencies among some of its users and is blocking them to make sure essential items are available to genuine customers.

“Yes, we have observed hoarding behavior among consumers across states. We are taking a hard approach to the hoarding of essential commodities. A lot of people are trying to game the system to acquire items and we are working proactively to block them and make sure essential supplies will be available to genuine customers,” said Dhindsa, adding it has also discontinued promotions for essential commodities.

Excessive buying or multiple orders to bypass the inventory limit can lead to order cancellations on the platform, he added.

However, BigBasket said it is “not witnessing hoarding behavior thus far”.

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