In March this year, as many countries announced various degrees of lockdown and safety measures, India too announced a nation-wide lockdown for three weeks. With COVID-19 cases surging during this period individuals and businesses across the country were severely impacted.
Businesses of all sizes, across industries suffered the impact of the lockdown as all non-essential commerce came to a grinding halt. According to an article dated May 5, 2020 on the Hindu Business Line, the Confederation for All India Traders (CAIT) had pegged the loss of INR 5.5 lakh crore for Indian retailers in the lockdown period from March 25 – April 30. 
Even as the country slowly starts to open up, the impact and implications of COVID-19 on businesses are expected to persist in the coming months. As the struggle continues to ride out the ‘lockdown’ storm, many establishments have started adapting to the new reality in small ways – to ensure business continuity, and in some severe cases, survival.
Media reports reveal that retailers of all sizes who were operating offline, prior to the lockdown, started shifting online. While bigger retailers had the capability to set up their own systems of online shopping or work with prominent logistics firms, smaller businesses required a different approach to fight the odds..
Take the example of Samir Khawas, who runs a grocery store in Kolkata. Before the lockdown, his store was the go-to destination for people living within a radius of 2-3 kms. Customers would come to his store with long shopping lists and patiently wait their turn amidst others . His regular, loyal customers would place orders over the phone, which he delivered through his helper, who doubled up as a delivery boy.
Then, on 25th March, 2020, the lockdown hit, and that was, as Samir puts it, the beginning of many sleepless nights. “I knew that it (lockdown) meant drastic loss as people would find it unsafe to step out of their homes and come to the store. And on top of that, I could not afford to employ more staff to deliver to my customers,”. While his business started to fall, more and more customers started calling to place orders over the phone. With no support to deliver, Samir was forced to turn down his customers But things started changing for Samir after he discovered Swiggy Genie. With his son’s help, Samir started using Genie to set up deliveries. “My customers were more than willing to pay, as long as I delivered these essentials. Genie that way has been a life saver,” he highlights.
Samir is not alone. Millet Amma, a local Bangalore-based business that sells organic and healthy batters and other provisions, used to deliver through its own fleet before the lockdown. Ruchika, the owner, who makes the batter at home didn’t have access to her delivery boys post the lockdown and hence started using Swiggy Genie to fulfil the needs of the consumers.
Swiggy recognized the need for delivery, as an essential life-line service during this phase, and rapidly launched and expanded Swiggy Genie in March 2020; on the heels of the first lockdown announcement. Genie helped consumers access essentials from stores at a time when it was unsafe for the to step out of their homes., Genie also enabled them to deliver food and other essentials from their house to other locations and today, the service is available in 65 cities across the country, delivering more than just essentials to consumers.
Currently, Genie helps consumers send food, clothes, documents, electronics and a whole lot more from one place to another. They can also buy anything from any store in the city; from stationery items to personal care, food from distant restaurants and bakeries, and anything else.
However, businesses using Swiggy Genie to deliver to their customers marks the beginning of the new ways of working through the course of the pandemic. For some, it was their first time delivering to customers’ homes and for others, Genie was a way to make up for their own reduced delivery fleet.
According to a McKinsey B2B Decision Maker Pulse Survey, Apr 2020, respondents claimed that digital-enabled sales interactions have become twice as important compared to the pre-COVID-19 period. And it only makes sense that the B2C space would see a similar increase in online dependencies as well, in their own way.
A small dipstick has revealed that most businesses have changed the way they enable continuity due to the lockdown, with an overwhelming majority stating that they’ve migrated to the online model and will continue to do so in times ahead.
Impact on other sectors:
Retail is not the only sector that has benefitted from Genie.. Those in the medical and education sectors have also seen merit in shifting their approach. Homeopathy doctors and clinics mostly handed out medicines in person to the patients, but now that is quickly changing to a no touch model through Swiggy Genie.
Dr. Sita Bhatt, a homeopathy doctor who runs a clinic in Koramangala found out about Genie through a patient. Patients were finding it difficult to restock their regular treatment medicines, she says. “I had no staff to deliver medicines to them and most of them were old patients for whom stepping out of the house in these times is difficult.” She and many more doctors like her across other cities have been using Genie to ensure that their patients have access to their medicines.
Across cities like Jaipur and Kolkata, schools have used Genie to ensure that children get their textbooks and other school supplies. Over 6000 book-sets have been delivered to students so far, and we’re hoping more institutions are able to support their students this way. Schools may be shut, but that doesn’t mean that learning needs to stop.
Life and business, as we know them, are evolving into something we’ve never experienced before. We are constantly working to improve the quality of life for all our consumers and will chip away at Swiggy Genie in hope that many more businesses benefit from the service as they adapt to the new normal.