Startups are doubling down on their efforts to enhance safety and hygiene standards as they seek to win the trust of consumers and partners. Securing PPE kits for employees, contactless delivery, mandatory use of Aarogya Setu app are among the measures that have emerged as the top priorities for companies.
Safety all the way
Ola, Urban Company, Grofers, Flipkart, Zomato, Swiggy, Amazon and Uber, among others, are investing significant capital in such measures, at a time when the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic has shaken the confidence of workers and consumers in the shared economy.
These startups are deploying measures including equipping partners with PPE like medical masks, gloves, face shields and sanitizers, minimal contact processes, daily temperature checks, and sanitization of tools and equipment. Swiggy, Flipkart, Ola and Amazon have also set up dedicated teams to focus on these initiatives. Read more.
Flipkart goes hyperlocal
Walmart-owned Flipkart is gearing up to launch a separate business vertical for 90-minute delivery of goods including grocery from local stores and its own smaller fulfilment centres. The ecommerce firm will leverage the last-mile capabilities of its $60-million investment in logistics startup Shadowfax as it enters the hyperlocal segment.
Why it matters
The grocery segment has become highly competitive with the arrival of players like Reliance Industries-owned JioMart, Amazon, among others. At first, the Bengaluru-based online retailer will start deliveries from its own dark stores or local warehouses and select shops, but over a period of time it will expand to other kiranas, modern retailers within a select neighbourhood. Read more.
Facebook-owned WhatsApp finally launched its payments service in Brazil on Tuesday, nearly two years after it started beta testing payments in India in an effort to start monetising the messaging app in its largest market.
Why is it significant?
The service has faced hiccups due to concerns over its data storage policy in India and sharing of that data with its parent entity Facebook. Limited to just one million users in its beta phase, the service was never able to get a full-fledged rollout in the country due to various regulatory concerns even as its rivals Google Pay and Walmart-owned PhonePe continued gaining market share in the digital payments space. Read more.
India’s e-commerce growth will likely be driven by Bharat, or users from outside large metro and tier I cities, over the next five-year period. A study by Bain & Company, done in collaboration with online retail giant Flipkart, estimates that India’s online shoppers will grow to 300-350 million by 2025 from around 100 million currently.
It also pegs the industry size at $100 billion in terms of gross merchandise value (GMV) during the same period.
Most of the 200 million new shoppers will come from tier II and small towns. This, according to the study, will be driven by a major drop in internet data rates, increasing share of Millenials and Gen Z among the population and high online reach of categories such as mobile phones and electronics. Read more.
Beenext closes two new VC funds
Singapore-based venture capital firm Beenext has announced the close of two new funds, totalling a corpus of $160 million (Rs 1,213 crore), with a third of it dedicated towards India, a geography where the early-stage investor has been an active participant. The fund will primarily look to invest in sectors such as ecommerce, fintech, health-tech, agri-tech, edtech, artificial intelligence and data-driven technology domains.
By the numbers
- The first fund—Beenext Emerging Asia Fund—has raised $110 million, and will allocate an estimated $55 million to India, with the rest being utilised to place bets across Southeast Asia.
- ·The second fund, which has raised $50 million, will exclusively focus on investing in SaaS businesses in Japan. Read more.
(Illustrations and graphics by Rahul Awasthi)