It was one foggy morning when Hossain received a request notification on his phone -- a special instruction that said, “Please call my father: 0172XXXXXX. Deliver here: *address*.” Weeks later, Hossain has already fallen in love with his new role of delivering groceries alongside food. “I used to be just a delivery agent to people. You deliver, take the money, that's it! But things have changed now. People thank me and treat me well. I know there is still a risk, but there is a different kind of happiness in being a hero.”
With motivated delivery people like Hossain, Shohoz Food started its on-demand grocery operations back in February with a simple goal: people should be able to get their necessities instantly -- not just food -- with a super app. Many senior citizens, asthma patients and work-from-home executives were already getting worried about the looming crisis. From mid-February, Shohoz began a proactive, small-scale experiment in Uttara to get various items dropped off at people’s doorsteps -- mostly elderly who were not keen on going outdoors. Little did Shohoz know that by mid-March, this pilot would help them deploy, in lightning speed, the massively popular grocery and medicine section in Shohoz Food.
Right before the government announced a general holiday from March 26 in an effort to flatten the curve, people were battered with the realization that essential groceries may soon be inaccessible. The densely populated cities of Dhaka and Chattogram urgently needed a way to keep people indoors. And on March 22, a team of people decided to scale their existing operations up and make it happen. In collaboration with over 250 independent pharmacies and grocery shops including Agora -- later to be joined by Meena Click, Shwapno and Unimart -- Shohoz moved from a beta launch of Shohoz grocery and medicine sections to full-fledged operations, within just three days.
Mumu, a private university student in Bashundhara, says, “It was more than impossible for me to convince my father not to go outside. Thanks to services like Shohoz, all his excuses went in vain. I can easily order cooking supplies, hygiene products and get them delivered in an hour.” An insider data from Shohoz showed that orders in the grocery/medicine section rose by almost 400% within just a week. Among this, 68% was contributed by groceries and the rest was due to OTC drugs/medical products.
While there has been a tremendous growth in the on-demand logistics services industry, the safety concern regarding delivery agents is still there. A senior official from Shohoz food operations explained, “In less than two weeks, we have helped over 15,000 people stay indoors. Of course, our people are in the streets -- that's why we are continuously urging users to use cards/MFS, while we are providing delivery agents with masks, gloves and hand sanitizers. They are instructed to thoroughly wash their hands every hour -- in our hubs and in the restaurants or super shops. This is no longer an instruction, however. This is now a responsibility to save themselves and their families.”
Besides working with restaurants to ensure an end-to-end hygienic delivery, Shohoz is also closely working with more and more consumer goods conglomerates like GSK and Marico, ensuring a seamless supply of products straight to people’s homes. Shohoz and other on-demand grocery services are not just allowing consumers to stay home, they are also ensuring that the economy keeps rolling -- employment opportunities are being created, and essentials are reaching homes the safest possible way.