For 28-year-old Pratyush Ranjan, the Covid-hit 2020 taught him hard lessons in embracing a digital life, not only for shopping clothes or shoes but also daily essentials like groceries, milk, vegetables, meat and more.
A year later, living in a high-rise apartment in Noida which has over 40 Covid-positive cases and rising, he is well prepared to cope with the unprecedented second Covid wave, thanks to easy-to-operate apps and a robust digital payments system just few clicks away.
"Life is so easy now. As I and several of my friends now work from home, ordering daily essentials was never so easy thanks to user-friendly apps. Last year made us realise the importance of going digital," said Ranjan.
He is not alone as thousands of urban Indians - who never looked at using smartphones to purchase items of daily needs and are once again locked up in their homes - across the country have become comfortable in using apps like BigBasket, JioMart, Grofers, Country Delight, FreshToHome, Licious and Zappfresh, etc to fulfil their needs without venturing out.
Moreover, digital payments providers like Paytm, PhonePe, Google Pay and BharatPe have made their digital journey easy.
"Whether it be hyperlocal O2O commerce models, contactless deliveries and pick-ups, and new mobile apps for an array of use cases and contexts - there has been a rapid progress in experimenting and improvising to deliver strong digital experiences for consumers," Prabhu Ram, Head-Industry Intelligence Group (IIG), CMR, told IANS.
During the pandemic, consumption of online branded meat has also increased by more than two times.
"Since Covid, customers increasingly preferred purchasing meat online. This was driven by the assurance of safety and hygiene, availability of various products under one umbrella, doorstep service provided by online meat providers," according to Bengaluru-based market research firm RedSeer.
The reality is that the pandemic has resulted in a significant increase in meat orders online and key delivery players have seen three times growth in meat orders since the outbreak of the pandemic in the country.
"Covid-19 transformed the fish and meat purchasing behaviour of consumers dramatically. Due to safety concerns, consumers made the habit-forming shift to e-commerce and we saw online demand for our products going up many folds this year," said Shan Kadavil, Co-Founder and CEO of FreshToHome.
Reliance Industries' e-commerce venture JioMart is now giving a fight to BigBasket. According to a BofA Global Research report, JioMart, launched in May last year, has gained a 20 per cent market share among distributors in Bengaluru.
When it comes to daily/monthly user base, "the DAU/MAU ratio, a function of retention, is also highest for Big Basket and JioMart at 17 per cent and 16 per cent, respectively," said BofA.
BigBasket, which saw a huge slump last year as the country went into lockdown, later doubled its business, servicing over 300,000 deliveries a day compared to around 150,000 deliveries prior to the lockdown.
While the direct-to-consumer dairy market is still in the nascent stage in India, Country Delight is performing really well, sourcing milk and eggs directly through farmers and processing several products such as paneer, curd, ghee and bread etc. It claims to have over 5 dozen stringent tests for impurities and toxins.
In the aftermath of the daunting and disruptive challenges that the pandemic posed at the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, there has been a significant acceleration in all things digital, which is helping people stuck at homes in the lethal second wave of Covid-19.