There was frantic activity in Flipkart’s Bengaluru office on 25 March, the first day of India’s originally 21-day nationwide lockdown to stymie the spread of Covid-19. All employees were scrambling to bolster the grocery operations of India’s biggest homegrown e-commerce retailer. While all other units—like smartphones, fashion, furniture—had to be shut down, its grocery business, Supermart, qualified as an “essential service” that could continue to operate.
The scene was not too dissimilar at rival Amazon, which has its own grocery units, Amazon Fresh and Amazon Pantry. Or even at pure e-grocers like Bigbasket and Grofers.