As Covid-19 remote work continue to bolster at-home dining, India’s delivery companies are rushing to get groceries to doorsteps quicker.
On Aug. 17, delivery outfit Grofers started promising 10-minute deliveries in 10 Indian cities: Delhi, Gurugram, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Jaipur, Ghaziabad, Noida, and Lucknow. Hyperlocal delivery startup Dunzo has also launched 19-minute deliveries in Bengaluru, and Zepto now makes 10-minute grocery deliveries in two parts of Mumbai’s suburbs. With its InstaMart option, food-delivery giant Swiggy also guarantees grocery delivery within 30 minutes in Bengaluru, Gurugram, Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Chennai and Noida.
But backlash is brewing over the impact of ever-intensifying demands on India’s delivery personnel, and the ethics of framing exploitative marketing gimmicks as actually-useful innovation. Minuscule delivery windows in cities known for intense traffic and tightly packed housing are likely to exacerbate poor working conditions for delivery workers who already contending with long hours and paltry pay. And the precedents being set today matter: India’s quick-commerce industry is set to grow at least tenfold, to $5 billion, by 2025.