When the first phase of lockdown was announced, it was the beginning of sleepless nights for Pavan Kumar, owner of SVR traders, a grocery store in PM Palema Visakhapatnam. He knew that it meant drastic loss as people could not step out of their homes to come to his shop. But Pavan is a happy man today, thanks to his tie-up with a local delivery app ChotaBeta that came to his rescue.
Pavan recieves nearly 20 orders from the app everyday. Apart from that he has over 30 walk-ins at his store. “If it had been only the walk-ins, it would be a very difficult time for me. But the app has ensured good business as the orders from ChotaBeta is usually for a larger amount compared, while the walk in customers will buy small and lesser stuff,” he says.
Since the lockdown, more and more people are relying on delivery apps for their essentials. Most of the established food delivery apps are running full steam to meet the high demand due to which they have fewer slots and longer waiting periods. In contrast, the local delivery apps are quicker and easier. ChotaBeta and DeliverEase, another Visakhapatnam-based delivery app have been reaching out to the smaller kirana stores, pharmacies and farmers who have been the backbone of survival.
A Srinivas and M Santosh the founders of ChotaBeta, that functions in Hyderabad and Visakhapatnam say the user base of their app has increased four times in the past five weeks. “When we launched in February, we had 20 users per day but since the lockdown, that number has gone up four times. On the first day of the lockdown, we had over 150 orders. Most of it was panic buying as people were unsure about the essentials being available to them. Over time, the orders subsided and now we have around 80 orders per day, most of which is for groceries and medicines,” says Srinivas.
The other local app, DeliverEase is also working in tandem with corner shops. “For groceries, we are in touch with six to 10 small kirana shops. Fruits and vegetables are procured directly from the farmers and since there are no middlemen this helps them earn 15 percent more,” explains the founder of DeliverEase, Harish Penumatsa. Harish has gone a step further to support local kirana stores by lending capital in advance to them. “ Most of these small scale traders depend on their earnings to restock hence we decided to give ₹10,000 in advance to each store that we have tied up with to ensure their business is running. This is the time to help local businesses by buying more from them as they are struggling to survive,” he says.
With a ground force of over 40 people, DeliverEase has been offering groceries, medicines and vegetables to its users. Launched in December last year, the apps orders have tripled since the lockdown. “All our delivery agents practise no contact delivery. We are also offering a sanitation packet with the orders that is wipes to clean the packaged food and an instruction card about sanitizing fruits and vegetables,” says Harish.
Deepa Kodali is from a business family and she says she understands the importance of supporting local economy. A resident of Daspalla Hills, she started using DeliverEase . During the lockdown, while most of her friends struggled to get their groceries, Deepa ordered from the app that was delivered within a day’s time. Deepa says she had heard how with bigger chains, orders were dropped the last minute or were incomplete, and took several days to be delivered. She preferred to stick with the local apps. She says there were glitches when the app crashed, “but the team reached out to me on the telephone and got me the products . In my experience the local apps are faster and more reliable,” she declares.
For San Jose-based Latha Anisingaraju, using the local apps to order for her Visakhapatnam-based parents has been a boon. “When I reached out to DeliverEase stating that my elderly parents needed other commodities apart from just groceries, theywent out of their way to get them things that were not listed on their app. They also enabled international payments which was a huge relief for me,” says a grateful Latha.