In a bid to ensure that consumers have access to goods during the lockdown, the Retailers Association of India (RAI) along with the government have implemented the 'Food Soldier' Project to overcome the present-day supply crunch.
'Food Soldiers' are all those individuals engaged in the supply, storage, retail and delivery of essential products who are risking their lives to ensure consumer needs for food and essentials are met, Rajagopalan said.
The project's objective is to optimise the supply chain for retailers of all sizes, including kiranas, and ensure that consumers get timely delivery of essential goods.
The grocery stores are claiming that no fresh supplies of biscuits, rice, aata, ghee and pulses have arrived.
Other items such as bread, milk and eggs are available for a short-window early in the morning.
Track this blog for latest updates on coronavirus outbreak
"Modern retail has de-grown by 30-40 percent in the last 15 days due to supply chain problems, shortage of manpower with attendance below 30 percent and lower customer entry due to social distancing," said Kumar Rajagopalan, Chief Executive Officer, Retailers Association of India (RAI)
Kumar added that at present, consumers are largely buying pure low margin items and hence the reduced sales may give a margin of around 12 percent against the normal 21 percent.
"For a more responsive and unhindered supply chains, we urge all personnel to work and create a sense of 'Food Soldiers' in the minds of people in the essential items supply chain is important to mitigate the issue," Rajagopalan added.
Further, to ease the situation and mitigate bottlenecks in the supply chain, RAI has formed effective WhatsApp groups across states which comprises of participation from the public (government officials) and private entities (big companies/retailers).
Amidst lockdowns, state governments have also stepped in with aid of technology to link the chains between stockists and delivery partners.
Steps are also being taken to deploy the workforce that is employed with non-food retailers in the stores that are selling essentials to overcome the shortage of manpower.
RAI is also in discussions with online food delivery firms like Swiggy and Zomato for last-mile delivery of essentials.
Rajagopalan expects with these steps, the situation is likely to ease further.
Follow our full coverage here