Leading food ordering and delivery platforms Zomato and Swiggy on Tuesday started home delivery of alcohol in Odisha, less than a week after starting similar services in Jharkhand, as part of efforts to prevent overcrowding of people at shops amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Starting with Bhubaneswar, the company will soon expand to other cities like Rourkela, Balasore, Balangir, Sambalpur, Berhampur and Cuttack, Zomato said in a statement.
In a separate statement, Swiggy said its home delivery service went live in Bhubaneswar and Rourkela on Tuesday after obtaining necessary approvals from the Odisha government, and plans to expand to other major cities in the state.
Liquor shops were mostly closed in the first three phases of the nationwide lockdown that started on March 25. In the fourth phase, which began from May 18, liquor shops have opened except in certain places. The extended lockdown is to end on May 31.
Earlier this month, the Supreme Court asked states to consider non-direct contact or online sales and home delivery of liquor during the lockdown period to prevent the spread of coronavirus on account of crowding at the shops.
"We're happy to be of service to our users in Odisha who can now use Zomato to get alcohol delivered in addition to grocery and food delivery," Zomato vice-president Rakesh Ranjan said.
The company is working with excise departments to ensure end-to-end compliance with safety guidelines and is also introducing consumption and identity verification protocols to promote responsible ordering as well as consumption, he added.
There would be age checks at the time of ordering as well as when the product is delivered.
Users will be required to upload a valid ID proof to be eligible for ordering which would later be verified by the delivery partner at the time of handing over the order. There would also be product category limits to promote responsible ordering, it added.
"We are thankful to the Odisha government and the liquor retail industry in enabling safe and compliant delivery of alcoholic beverages in Odisha. We look forward to building this partnership together," Ranjan said.
The service named Zomato Wine Shops would be available on the home page of the Zomato app and will allow users to select any product from the listed retailers and get it delivered right to their doorsteps, Zomato said.
In similar vein, Swiggy said online processing and home delivery of alcohol will be through the ''Wine Shops'' category in Odisha.
"After successfully launching alcohol delivery in Jharkhand, we are expanding our services to Odisha, starting with Bhubaneswar and Rourkela. Cuttack and Berhampur will follow in the next couple of days," a Swiggy Spokesperson said in a statement.
Consistent with Swiggy's approach, the company has leveraged technology to automate the customer verification process and solve an important challenge and support the government with enabling safe deliveries, spokesperson added.
The company is partnering with authorised retailers across major cities after validating their license and other required documents as outlined by the state government, Swiggy said.
Both the delivery partners and retailers are being virtually trained to facilitate smooth processing and fulfillment of orders, it added.
To place orders, customers need to complete an instant age verification by uploading a picture of their valid government ID, followed by a selfie which the platform will use for authentication, Swiggy said.
The company has partnered with HyperVerge to enable AI-face recognition for mandatory age verification and user authentication for alcohol deliveries, it added.
"After gaining good traction in Ranchi post launching the service last week, Swiggy has expanded its services in other major cities in Jharkhand including Ramgarh and Deoghar," Swiggy said.
To avail the home delivery service, customers in Odisha can access the ''Wine Shops'' category by updating their Swiggy app, it added.
Earlier on May 21, Zomato and Swiggy had started home delivery of alcohol in Ranchi and had said they planned to expand it to other cities going forward.