Indian food delivery startups Swiggy and Zomato will start delivering alcohol in some cities in an effort to meet the increased demand for booze during the lockdown. Ranchi, the capital of Jharkhand, will be the first area to get alcohol delivered.
“We believe that a technology-enabled home delivery based solution can enable responsible consumption of alcohol as well as provide an option that’s safer and promotes social distancing,” a Zomato spokesperson told the Economic Times in a report on Thursday (May 21).
The move comes after wine shops were overcrowded with long lines once the government lifted restrictions on alcohol sales across the country. Alcohol and tobacco were initially banned when India locked down in March amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“By enabling home delivery of alcohol in a safe and responsible manner, we can generate additional business for retail outlets while solving the problem of overcrowding, thereby promoting social distancing,” said Anuj Rathi, vice-president of products at Swiggy.
In order to receive delivery, customers have to verify their age by uploading a selfie and a picture of their identification. They also have to provide a one-time password at the time of delivery.
The new delivery option will also serve as a business boost to Swiggy and Zomato. Both startups started seeing steep declines in business during the lockdown. Earlier this week, Swiggy laid off over 1,000 people in its workforce. Zomato downsized its workforce last week by 13 percent, affecting about 500 workers. About 540 Zomato employees were also laid off last fall.
In March, Uber Eats sold its Indian operations to Zomato for a reported $206 million. Despite the acquisition by Zomato, Swiggy is India’s biggest food delivery business, according to industry estimates. Both companies are still trying to turn a profit.
South African technology investor Prosus Ventures is Swiggy’s largest investor. China’s Ant Financial, an affiliate of Alibaba, is Zomato’s biggest backer.