"Place an order...don't blink..enjoy!"-- that's how fast the buzzy 10-minute grocery app Zepto promises to deliver items to you via its newest offering called 'Cafe' if you live in Mumbai. Zepto claims it has already championed the 10-minute grocery delivery concept. Despite facing intense criticism over the instant delivery concept, this new concept has resonated well with industry leaders like Swiggy, Zomato and others, and they are rethinking their strategy of delivering grocery and other services.

The buzz around 10-minute delivery service is so strong that almost all top food delivery startups have come up with their version of quick commerce. Zomato officially entered the 10-minute delivery space last month. Blinkit, earlier named Grofers, also promises to deliver groceries in 10 minutes.

Swiggy has launched Instamart, while BigBasket has come up with BB Now. Bhavish Aggarwal-led Ola also launched its Qcommerce platform called Ola Dash. Amid this rush towards instant service, what's the concept behind quick commerce, how does it differ from the original idea of delivering services and what are the concerns around this idea?

Here’s an explainer.

What’s the 10-minute online delivery concept

Zepto's quick commerce model works on the Cafe format, where you can buy ready-to-eat items such as tea, coffee, biscuits and sandwiches, and other packaged snacks and drinks. But, it does not claim to deliver food items in 10 minutes. The company's core idea is the delivery of groceries in 10-minutes. The idea has caught the attention of bigger rivals like Zomato and Swiggy. Going a step ahead, Zomato has claimed it'll offer delivery of food items like biryani, momos, instant noodles, bread omelette, etc, in 10 minutes.

Blinkit was among the first ones to start the 10-minute grocery delivery trend, soon others also followed the line. Now Swiggy's Instamart service, active in Delhi-NCR, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Pune and Chennai, delivers essentials in 15-30 minutes. Similarly, Tata Digital-owned BigBasket launched BB Now to deliver instant groceries in 10-20 minutes. It promises to pay 5% cashback -- with some terms and conditions -- in case of failure in delivering services in time.

India's quick commerce market also caught Bhavish Aggarwal’s attention and his company came up with Ola Dash, earlier known as Ola Store. It offers delivery of a wide array of products, including a selection of fresh produce, snacks, beverages, instant food, home care products and cooking essentials.

What's behind criticism of 10-minute delivery

Though the fast delivery of services is good from a customer's point of view, it can set a dangerous precedent, which can have devastating effects on delivery partners' well being in the long run, say industry watchers. These delivery partners, who often pull 10-12 hours shift every day, are already under immense stress. Complaints are lodged against riders every day for flouting traffic norms as they are often in rush to deliver household items within the deadline.

They are at constant risk of accidents. Low income, the rising cost of living and high fuel prices and issues in personal lives can take a toll on such individuals, say health experts. Not to forget the issues that could arise with the quality of services.

Though no such official data has been put out in the public domain, companies claim the almost negligible number of road accidents involving delivery partners as compared to the orders processed every day.

Experts, however, say that rather than focusing on the delivery of grocery items in 10 minutes, and rising people's lives, the focus should be on the delivery of essential services like ambulances or medicines in the shortest possible time, as they could save many lives.

Scepticism behind the 10-minute model

The Qcommerce model would not work beyond Tier-1 cities, which will ultimately limit companies' expansion plans, say sceptics. The questions are being asked if India's internet users need these kinds of services at all. However, the companies like Zepto are betting big on mini-warehouse models, which it said have helped in achieving high customer experience metrics. With a total addressable market of about $45 billion in just 2 metros currently, the E-commerce market is also bound to increase as companies expand to other bigger cities. However, logistics challenges, quality issues and safety concerns are the prime areas where they need to work.

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