March 2020. Something unprecedented happened. The entire country was locked down. A deadly virus had spread to the entire world. The COVID-19 virus, as it came to be known, was everywhere. In markets, on roads, even in our own homes. Without a vaccine underway, there was gloom all around.
When the nationwide lockdown was imposed, it brought with it a lot of uncertainty, ambiguity, and apprehension. People were afraid to move out of their homes, in the fear that they’d get infected and bring the virus back home to their families. There was panic all around, and the fear of a shortage of fresh produce led to hoarding. The supply-demand mismatch caused prices of daily essentials to increase by upto 80%.
With many Mandis closed, most shops had shut operations. Some shopkeepers who managed to source supplies had begun to deliver daily essentials and take orders via WhatsApp. Orders on the Ninjacart app had also risen in the past few days as retailers opted for online business rather than travelling to crowded Mandis. The Ops teams at Ninjacart were hard at work making sure all orders were fulfilled and deliveries were done on time. But there was one problem. That people weren’t willing to move out of their homes. While people in individual homes could go to shops easily, it wouldn’t be so convenient for apartment dwellers and gated societies, since they lived closely with dozens of other families. One infected person could put all the residents at risk. As a result, ordering online through apps like Dunzo and Swiggy started gaining popularity. However, the B2C grocery delivery apps were overwhelmed with orders and their supply chain was burdened.
Unprecedented problems require unprecedented solutions. Many flat-residents were voicing out their problems on social media. To solve this problem, our CEO, Thirukumaran Nagarajan, came up with the idea of delivering directly to apartment societies. The idea was to take bulk orders from societies that would be treated as a normal order from a typical shop. The residents could collate their requirements and order in bulk from us, and we would deliver the order on T+2 day. The residents could then weigh and segregate their individual orders accordingly. It’d not only help people stay indoors but also address their fear of supply shortage.
As soon as the decision was made and circulated within the company, various departments immediately went to work. The first order of business was to communicate this information with the outside world. The Sales and Marketing departments began working their magic. The announcement was made on our social media channels and website through a blog post. A special telegram channel was made which the residents could join for enquiries and updates. The sales team made sure to inform stakeholders about our new service. Newspapers helped spread the news too.
After trials with a few apartments, we launched the new service at scale on April 1st, 2020 when we made the delivery to 4 apartments. Soon, we would be serving over 500 apartments across 6 cities-Delhi, Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Chennai, Pune, and Hyderabad. Even with constraints of movement, we made sure there were no compromises on quality. Our commitment was rewarded with a very high rate of repeat orders by apartments associations. We were amply supported by volunteers who helped us segregate and weigh the orders for individual families, once the delivery was made.
After a successful operation of 4 months, we winded up the service on August 5th as lockdowns were eased and the rate of infection was controlled. We had served over 500 apartment societies and thousands of families when a deadly virus lurked in every nook and corner of the world. The courage and quick-thinking displayed by Ninjacart leadership was perhaps only second to the grassroots ninjas, the ones who executed everything at the forefront.
Entrepreneurship is not only about the hustle and bustle, it is about solving real problems. It is about being on your toes when faced with trouble, about finding unique solutions to problems big and small. That’s what we do at Ninjacart. And that is #TheNinjacartAdvantage.
We salute all the ninjas and volunteers who helped us serve society during the COVID-19 lockdowns.
At Ninjacart, we are motivated to find innovative ways to solve real-world problems that plague the Agri ecosystem in India.
Want to solve with us? Write to firstname.lastname@example.org to apply for available positions.