Zomato starts home delivery of alcohol in Odisha, Swiggy to follow suit

BHUBANESWAR: Odisha has become the second state after Jharkhand in recent days to allow home delivery of alcohol, with online food ordering platform Zomato announcing the launch of the service in the state capital Bhubaneshwar. The Gurugram-based company also plans to extend the service to Rourkela, Balasore, Balangir, Sambalpur, Berhampur and Cuttack.

Swiggy would follow its rival in but there could be some delay in the aftermath of the Cyclone Amphan that wrecked the coastal districts of the eastern state, sources said.

Alcohol deliveries can help the business of the two companies, which have seen a drop in home delivery of food, with most restaurants shut due to the coronavirus-induced lockdown and people opting to cook their meals. Some of the restrictions have since been eased and restaurants allowed takeaways but that hasn’t stopped layoffs or salary cuts.

On May 18, Swiggy laid off 1,100 employees and shut down some of its businesses. Two days earlier, Zomato had announced a plan to let go of around 500 staff and cut by up to 50 percent the salary of the remaining employees for the next six months.

Last week, both Swiggy and Zomato started alcohol delivery in Ranchi, the capital of neighbouring Jharkhand, within hours of each other.

“We are working very closely with excise departments to ensure end-to-end compliance to the safety guidelines and are also introducing consumption and identity verification protocols to promote responsible ordering and consumption,” said Rakesh Ranjan, vice president at Zomato.

In a press statement, Zomato said it had built several safety processes and checks to ensure the safe delivery of alcohol, starting from age checks at the time of ordering as well as at the time of delivery. Users have to upload a valid proof of age that is verified at the time of delivery. There are limits in place as well to promote responsible ordering, the company said. With their core business hit badly by the lockdown, the two companies have already diversified into grocery deliveries.

Sale of alcohol was banned along with several other purchases when the lockdown was announced on March 24. The government lifted the ban in May, which led to serpentine queues outside shops, creating fears of the virus spread.