Ironic as it may sound but digital India saw its biggest challenge on Wednesday when smartphone-based leading food delivery platforms Zomato and Swiggy found themselves in no man’s land as restaurants, including cloud kitchens, went out of service and delivery boys were turned back by local authorities as the 21-day lockdown came into force.
There was nothing for millions of food lovers to order as restaurants went ‘unserviceable’. Wherever there were food outlets some open, delivery boys were stopped by the local authorities.
“Our delivery partners are facing several hurdles across cities while trying to deliver food which has been classified as an essential service. We are communicating with the relevant authorities and hoping these issues are sorted soon,” a Zomato spokesperson told IANS.
In a tweet, Zomato CEO Deepinder Goyal said that the company is actively working with the authorities to clear the confusion so that essential services can operate without trouble.
Swiggy said there has been a short-term impact in terms of softening in volumes which can be attributed to the shortage of supply due to temporary closure of many high-volume restaurants located in malls and disruptions on ground across certain states.
“However, Swiggy is working with local governments to remain operational and extend our support during these testing times, especially to the customers in need,” said a company spokesperson.
Zomato also said that it will continue to operate with curtailed partner network (restaurants and delivery) for those in need of food delivery.
Both the players have introduced “‘contactless'” delivery option where the delivery boys ensure social distancing.
Zomato and Swiggy currently dominate the online food delivery market in India. Zomato has also acquired Uber’s Food Delivery Business in India in an all-stock deal of nearly US$ 350 million.