Experience-hailing was hit laborious by COVID-19. Seize’s Russell Cohen on how the corporate tailored. – TechCrunch

A contactless delivery performed by a Grab delivery driver

A contactless Grab supply


Experience-hailing providers around the globe have been hit laborious by the COVID-19 pandemic, and Grab was no exception. The corporate is among the most highly-valued tech startups in Southeast Asia, the place it operates in eight nations. Its transport enterprise suffered a pointy decline in March and April, as motion restriction orders had been applied.

However the firm had the benefit of already working a number of on-demand logistics providers. Throughout Disrupt, Russell Cohen, Seize’s group managing director of operations, talked about how the corporate tailored its know-how for an unprecedented disaster (the video is embedded under).

“We sat down as a management group firstly of the disaster and we might see, significantly in Southeast Asia, that the dimensions of the problem was so immense,” stated Cohen.


Seize’s driver app already allowed them to toggle between ride-hailing and on-demand supply requests. On account of COVID-19, over 149,000 drivers started performing on-demand deliveries for the primary time, with Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand seeing probably the most conversions. That quantity included tens of 1000’s of recent drivers who joined the platform to make up for misplaced earnings in the course of the pandemic.

The problem was scaling up its supply providers to satisfy the dramatic enhance in demand by customers, and in addition retailers who wanted a brand new solution to attain prospects. In March and April, Cohen stated slightly below 80,000 small companies joined its platform. Many had by no means offered on-line earlier than, so Seize expedited the discharge of a self-service function, making it simpler for retailers to on-board themselves.

“It is a huge sector of the Southeast Asian economic system that successfully digitized inside a matter of weeks,” stated Cohen.


Plenty of the brand new retailers had beforehand taken solely money funds, so Seize needed to set them up for digital funds, a course of made less complicated as a result of the corporate’s monetary unit, Seize Monetary, already gives providers like Seize Pay for cashless funds, cellular wallets and remittance providers.

Seize additionally launched a brand new bundle of instruments known as Grab Merchant, which enabled retailers to set-up on-line companies by submitting licenses and certification on-line, and contains options like information analytics.

Modeling for uncertainty within the “new regular”

A part of Seize’s COVID-19 technique concerned collaborating with native municipalities and governments in several nations to make deliveries extra environment friendly. For instance, it labored with the Singaporean authorities to broaden a pilot program, known as GrabExpress Car, initially launched in September, that enabled extra of Seize’s ride-hailing automobiles for use for meals and grocery deliveries. Beforehand, lots of these deliveries had been dealt with solely by motorbikes.


The scenario in every of Seize’s markets–Singapore, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam—continues to be evolving. Some markets have lifted lockdown orders, whereas others proceed to deal with new outbreaks.

Cohen stated ride-hailing is steadily recovering in lots of Seize’s markets. However the firm is getting ready for an unsure future by modeling totally different eventualities, bearing in mind potential re-closings, and long-lasting adjustments in each shopper and service provider habits.

“Unpredictability is one thing we predict lots about,” Cohen stated. Its fashions embody ones the place deliveries are a considerably bigger a part of its enterprise, as a result of even in nations the place motion restrictions have been lifted, prospects nonetheless choose to buy on-line.


COVID-19 has additionally accelerated the adoption of digital funds in a number of of Seize’s markets. For instance, Seize launched its GrabPay Card in the Philippines three months ago, as a result of extra individuals are starting to make use of contactless funds in response to COVID-19 issues.

By way of on-demand deliveries, the corporate is increasing GrabExpress, its same-day courier service, and adapting know-how initially created for ride-pooling to assist drivers plan pickups and deliveries extra effectively. This can assist lower the price of supply providers as customers stay price-conscious due to the pandemic’s financial affect.

“Buying behaviors have modified, so for us, after we take into consideration the provision facet, the drivers’ facet, which means we’ve bought to ensure our fleet is versatile,” he stated.