Hungry souls draw a Swiggy blank

Swiggy, one of the more popular app-based food delivery services in India, has pressed pause in Calcutta, triggering sighs and oh-nos from foodies who love to binge on their favourite restaurant food sitting in the comfort of their homes or at work.

By Sibendu Das and Karo Christine Kumar
  • Published 28.06.16
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Swiggy, one of the more popular app-based food delivery services in India, has pressed pause in Calcutta, triggering sighs and oh-nos from foodies who love to binge on their favourite restaurant food sitting in the comfort of their homes or at work.

So why has Swiggy shut the door on hungry Calcuttans? "Due to certain unavoidable operational challenges pertaining to our delivery fleet, we've been forced to pause our service in the city for now," states an official mail from Swiggy to its customers on Monday morning.

The Bangalore-based start-up, currently operational in seven cities, launched in Calcutta on August 21 last year and, at last count, had tie-ups with more than 500 restaurants.

Restaurant owners associated with Swiggy appeared shocked by the announcement that the delivery service had been stalled. "Swiggy has been a fantastic service. They definitely helped us in reaching out to customers who otherwise wouldn't have come to our restaurant. It has proved a profitable association. It's shocking that they have to temporarily stall their services," said Doma Wang of The Blue Poppy, known for its Tibetan and Chinese food.

According to the official mail that Swiggy sent out to its partners on Monday, the organisation is facing operational challenges pertaining to "our delivery fleet, which is unique to the city of Kolkata".

The mail states that the management is facing "some pressure to work with multiple intermediaries/groups in order to function peacefully" in the city.

Once an order is placed via the app, the restaurant chosen by the customer and the closest delivery executives (DEs) are intimated. The restaurant then starts preparing the food. During this time, the DE arrives at the restaurant to collect the order and carry it to the customer, wherever the person is. The customer can track the process through GPS.

Industry insiders told Metro that they were trying to get to the root of the problem. "I have been following up with the DEs to restart operations since Swiggy brings around six per cent of our sales to the table," said Nikhil Chawla, a franchisee of Mocha.

When Metro contacted a DE who had previously delivered food at The Telegraph office, he said the "delivery boys were on strike demanding higher pay".

Swiggy's Calcutta branch had apparently been facing "pressure" for around a week leading up to the suspension of operations. "They tried to resume operations in the Park Street area, but the DEs were told by a union that they should not resume work unless Swiggy met their demands," said a restaurant manager.

For Tapash Roy of Mitra Cafe, Swiggy's decision to suspend its operations means losing out on a growing circle of customers who might not be able to visit its outlets. "Swiggy is a very helpful service. We don't have a dedicated delivery fleet and hence Swiggy helps us tap customers who usually avoid coming to our outlets. During the IPL, we would sell an extra 100 fish fries and fish kabirajis on match days because of Swiggy. It's sad that they have stopped operations here. I hope they resume soon," Roy said.

Sudip Mullick of Balaram Mullick & Radharaman Mullick had tied up with Swiggy soon after the start-up came to the city. "They distributed our Baked Rosogolla free to customers as an introductory offer. When any customer asks us to get some mishti delivered, we would just ask them to Swiggy it. Orders worth Rs 10,000 would come through Swiggy every day," he said.

Tolly actress Tonushree Chakraborty, who owns American Cave in New Alipore and Barbeque World in Hatibagan, said her restaurants had received "a very good response" through Swiggy. "They stopped their service last week. They had resumed for a day in the middle, but discontinued it. This is very unfortunate," Tonushree said.

Have you ordered food through Swiggy? Tell ttmetro@abpmail.com