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10-minute Deliveries: A Bottleneck for Quick Commerce? Zomato, Flipkart, Ola and Reliance's JioMart have lately been struggling with instant deliveries, which range from 10 to 30 minutes. What does that say about the future of quick commerce?

By Soumya Duggal

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After murmurs emerged in May last year about restaurant aggregator Zomato revaluating its 10-minute delivery programme, Zomato Instant, due to delivery delays, the company is now reportedly shutting down—or "rebranding"—the service.

According to ET, Zomato is experimenting with low-value packed meals, such as thalis or combo meals as part of the rebranding process. The new offering will be launched in 7-10 days and may or may not come with a10-minute delivery service.

Profitability and sustainability are major concerns in the quick-commerce space—which, unlike e-commerce, promises order deliveries within an hour or so—as it relies on massive cash burn for scaling up and driving user-adoption. Of late, q-comm sector players such as Zomato have been struggling particularly with their instant delivery (10-30 minutes) offerings.

In November last year, for instance, Businessline reported Flipkart's plans to scale down its instant grocery delivery service Flipkart Quick from 14 to 2 cities to focus more on the next-day grocery delivery service Flipkart Supermart. Launched in 2020, Flipkart Quick changed its delivery time from the initial 90 minutes to 30-45 minutes over two years until plans to expand the service further were scrapped altogether.

Ride-hailing platform Ola too shut down its 10-minute grocery delivery service Ola Dash in June last year. The service was launched in Bengaluru in December 2021 with the intention of building a network of 500 dark stores across 20 cities. As competition in the sector increased, Ola was compelled to suspend operations and lay off 2,100 contract workers who were hired to man the Ola Dash dark stores.

While Tata-owned e-grocer BigBasket did launch a 20-minute delivery service, BB Now, in November 2021, CEO Hari Menon told ET last year that 80 per cent of the company's total business would still come from planned purchases through its core model which delivers in a few hours or the next day.

Apart from the uncertain future of instant delivery services in particular, the q-commerce space in general appears to increasingly have fewer takers according to media reports: Reliance Retail's JioMart has quietly paused the operations of its 90-minute grocery delivery service JioMart Express, which was launched in March 2022; Amazon plans to stay away from quick deliveries due to consumers' dissatisfaction with multiple delivery offerings.

As delivery apps with diverse offerings step away, it appears that the cash-guzzling quick commerce sector is going to remain dominated by the likes of Blinkit and Zepto, whose core business models are entirely dependent on fast deliveries.

Soumya Duggal

Former Feature Writer

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