Order from chaos. As an entire nation scrambles for essential goods, suppliers are on the move to meet the demand. In the wake of the curfew, several grocery delivery services have sprung up to deliver your daily essentials to your doorstep.
Previously, online grocery shopping never caught up with Sri Lankan consumers because many found the experience of browsing and shopping at the physical store more relaxing and engaging. But now with the sudden change in our lifestyles, we’re increasingly relying on delivery. Adding insult to injury, we saw a bumpy start with stories of price gouging. Thankfully, the Consumer Affairs Authority (CAA) is actively monitoring the situation and has taken strict action against businesses selling goods beyond the MRP. If you paid above MRP for an item, please make a complaint to the CAA by calling 1977.
Here’s an updated list of companies to get the groceries you need.
Starting off with a partnership with Litro Gas to deliver LP Gas, PickMe Food has since expanded its options tremendously. You can select a set of pre-packed groceries from Sathosa, which cover several basic needs. Depending on where you live, you’ll also find certain specialised options ranging from packs of vegetables from Groceries by Granada to meals from restaurants such as Calorie Counter. The company is currently expanding its operations across other areas. To place an order, log into the PickMe app and tap on the Food icon.
UberEats, Cargills, and Sensaal
Recently, Cargills launched its own grocery delivery service. You can place your order between 8 AM and 2 PM on a daily basis. Call the nearest Cargills Food City outlet and place the order. Orders will be delivered within 24 hours. The basic requirements are:
- You need to be within 5 KM of the nearest Cargills Food City outlet
- Minimum order of LKR 2,000 per order
Granted, in practice, you’ll be redialing the number quite a few times before your call is answered. Alternatively, if you’re near its outlets at Battaramulla, Colpetty, Kattiya Junction, or Mount Lavinia, you can also order groceries via UberEats. Like many other services, you’ll find options for pre-packed bags of groceries. Further, you can also use the app to order bread from Sensaal. Delivery with UberEats is, of course, subject to the availability of riders.
With a domain that was registered almost two decades ago, Keells has now relaunched its online store and has begun promoting its grocery delivery service. However, the chain is conscious of its current capacity, supply chain and team strength and is limiting the number of orders per day to ensure that they can fulfil all the orders they accept.
To place an order, first create an account. Orders will be accepted from 6 AM and close once the daily limit for orders is reached. At the time of writing this article, Keells is accepting only 4,000 orders per day. Deliveries will be made within 48 – 72 hours. However, the website can only accommodate approximately 1000 users at a given time which is a challenge, to say the least. Tune into the Keells Facebook page for more updates.
Following pursuit is Arpico with their grocery delivery service. You can place an order by calling the nearest Arpico outlet to you. The picture above lists their contact details. Orders can be placed between 10 AM and 1 PM every day. You have the choice of pre-packed groceries ranging from LKR 1,000 to LKR 10,000. Any additional items are subject to availability. It should be noted there’s also a delivery charge of LKR 50 per kilometre. For more details, you can tune into the Arpico Facebook page.
Yoho Mart (Yoho Bed)
Following in the footsteps of apps that have shifted their business model to cater to the rising demand for grocery delivery is Yoho Mart (formerly Yoho Bed). The service currently delivers to Colombo 3 through 8 and Dehiwala. The app starts taking orders between 12 AM and 12 PM and is limited to 150 orders per day. You can place your orders by downloading the Yoho Bed app, which is available on both Android and iOS.
Speaking to ReadMe, Founder and CEO of Yoho Bed, Hifnaz Jifferey, said “We wanted to be useful at a time like this so we pooled all our resources together and changed our business model. We have challenges in logistics but we’re still able to do what we promised because we only undertake what we can manage.”
Another business which was among the first to pivot towards grocery delivery is Lassana Flora. Better known as a florist, the company shifted its business model to deliver fruits and vegetables. Generally, its delivery times vary between 5 – 7 days. Despite a few early setbacks, the service has received largely positive feedback on social media. You can visit their website lassana.com to make an order.
Before the curfew came into effect, Saaraketha used to process 50 orders a day with a team of 40. Since then the provider of organic produce has had to scale up to process over 1,500 orders in two days with a team of 15. Founder & Chairman of Saaraketha stated, “We had to scramble to work out new ways of working, new processes, and there was no time to test and verify anything, as the delays and the complaints mounted up,”
“Balancing the recruiting of outsourced new staff, training them, working out the kinks, all the while processing orders and trying to deliver as many orders as possible has been the most daunting task of our lives. Nonetheless, we have kept going and I am incredibly proud of my team for that and humbled to provide stewardship to this amazingly inspiring team who brings out the best in me,” he added. Currently, Saaraketha delivers 500 orders per day. You can place your order by visiting the Saaraketha Organics website.
A well-known veteran in the local eCommerce industry, Takas too has partnered with the Ideal Group and LAPMC to begin delivering vegetables. To place your orders you can visit the Takas website. Currently, the company is making deliveries to Colombo 1 through 15, Dehiwala, Nugegoda, Rajagiriya, and Nawala.
Speaking to ReadMe, Co-Founder of Takas, Lahiru Pathmalal shared that most grocery chains lack the technology to accommodate a large number of orders because it’s difficult to scale it up. “Takas has the backend technology required to easily scale up to meet the demand. Groceries are the need of the moment and we’ve taken it upon ourselves to solve this problem for consumers,” said Lahiru.
Grocery delivery has immense potential for improvement
Besides these services, there are several others advertising to deliver groceries to your doorstep. However, outside of those with the experience of using digital technology such as Takas and PickMe to optimise last-mile delivery, many of these have struggled. Even many of the supermarkets you’ll find are swamped with orders almost instantly the moment they open.
However, it’s important to be mindful of the other side of the story. Many of these supermarkets and services are currently operating at limited capacity. The few people working during these times to deliver these orders to you are doing so under great stress and risk to their health. As the story of Saaraketha shows, this has presented unprecedented challenges for these companies. Inevitably, this means delays and mishaps will occur along the way. While difficult to do on an empty stomach, it helps to extend compassion and understanding in these chaotic times.