Uber partners with Flipkart and BigBasket in India to deliver essential items

Uber is resuming some services in India as it looks to help other firms deliver grocery and other essential items in select parts of the country, nearly two weeks after New Delhi ordered a three-week lockdown for its 1.3 billion people.

The American firm said on Monday that it has partnered with Flipkart to deliver everyday essentials in Delhi, Mumbai, and Bangalore. The announcement comes days after Uber inked a similar deal with online grocer BigBasket and Kolkata-headquartered chain Spencer’s Retail.

Prabhjeet Singh, director of operations and head of cities for Uber India and South Asia, said the partnerships will allow Uber to help companies reach the last-mile destinations. The company executives have said that they are working to serve customers in additional Indian cities and are open to engaging with more firms that need help with logistics.

“The partnership helps keep the economy running and enables Indians to stay at home in line with government guidelines for containing Covid-19, as well as creates earning opportunities for driver,” he added.

Uber said it will not charge any commission on these transactions and drivers, who typically have to let go as much as 25% of their earnings to the ride-hailing firm, will keep 100% of the billed amounts.

Last week, Uber announced it had partnered with grocery firms and stores in Spain, France, and Brazil to deliver grocery products. In the U.S. and the UK, Uber has temporarily terminated the fees it charges independent restaurants — though some have complained that the deal is not feasible for them. (Uber sold its Indian food delivery business to Zomato earlier this year.)

BigBasket will use Uber’s service to serve customers in Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Chandigarh and Noida, it said late last week.

The move will help both Flipkart and BigBasket that have more than half a million inventories stuck at their warehouses because of shortage of delivery workers.

“This partnership is to help move essential supplies from our sellers/vendors to customers in the shortest possible span of time,” said Rajneesh Kumar, Chief Corporate Affairs Officer at Flipkart, in a statement.

Uber and its chief rival in India, Ola, suspended their operations in the country last month ahead of the lockdown enforced by the government in a bid to contain the spread of the infectious disease.

Uber said it was also working with state authorities in India to pilot what it calls ‘Uber Essential’ to resume rides for people who need to urgently travel within a city. The company expects to pilot the service in select parts of the country this week.