Indian postman Ratan Lal riding a bicycle as he delivers a parcel to a customer in a village in the Rajasthan district of Neemrana. Many private firms are switching to e-commerce and delivery services. Photo: AFP/Sajjad Hussain

With customers reluctant to step out of their homes due to the lockdown in India and the fear of contracting Covid-19, businesses are boosting their online presence and deliveries to reach out to them.

Large brick-and-mortar retailers, restaurants, mobile phone handset dealers and even car sellers have been tweaking their business models to be relevant in this socially distanced world.

Their plans include training existing store staff for e-commerce business, hiring delivery personnel and building more warehouses. Reliance Retail, the retail arm of India’s richest man Mukesh Ambani, is building processes and training employees to deal with e-commerce and phone orders, the Economic Times reported.

It is India’s leading brick and mortar retail outfit and runs stores such as Reliance Fresh, Reliance Smart and Reliance Smart Points.

Many other brick and mortar stores and mobile handset sellers, which had previous put hardly any emphasis on e-commerce and home delivery, are now reworking their business strategies. They are building e-commerce networks and training their staff accordingly. Many restaurants are now strengthening their home delivery units.

On the other hand, e-grocers such as BigBasket, Grofers and the Walmart-owned Flipkart are facing a glut in orders and are finding it hard to carry out timely deliveries to their customers. They are now trying to strengthen their warehouse network and their delivery teams.

Many companies are now roping in bike-taxi and cab aggregators, who are idle because of the lockdown. Bike-taxi aggregator Rapido has now joined hands with retailers such as Big Bazaar, Spencer’s Retail and e-grocer Big Basket to help them with last-mile deliveries, The Hindu Business Line reported.

Rapido will undertake the last-mile delivery of orders to customers in more than 90 cities. It is also in talks with multiple players including e-grocer Grofers and online fish and meat seller FreshtoHome to help them deliver essentials.

Daily use consumer goods companies are tweaking their last-mile delivery strategies. Biscuit maker Britannia Industries has partnered with on-demand e-commerce startup Dunzo for home delivery of its products.

Beauty and wellness products seller Marico has tied up with food delivery platform Swiggy and Zomato, while consumer goods major ITC has roped in pizza delivery firm Domino’s Pizza to home deliver its products.

Car sales

Even car sellers are ramping up their online platform. Hyundai Motors India, a unit of the South Korean carmaker Hyundai, has launched Click to Buy, an end-to-end online platform to purchase vehicles.

This platform integrates the carmaker’s 500 dealers across the country and is connected to them on a real-time basis. An interested customer can register on the platform, select a vehicle and get in touch with the sales representative. They can either pick the vehicle from the selected dealer or get it delivered.