Will Coleman, Alto’s founder and CEO, said business was suddenly hurting, and badly, as “people were starting to heed the warnings here in Dallas.” Ride volume had fallen by about 75% within a matter of days.
The one-and-half year old company didn’t waste much time before reacting. Last week, it pivoted its focus to delivering food and goods to peoples’ homes, while still servicing the occasional ride. The startup overhauled its website, notified drivers, and began striking up partnerships with local businesses to help service delivery needs ranging from garden supplies to groceries.
Alto’s rideshare drivers aren’t the only ones who have found themselves becoming accidental delivery workers. As the coronavirus pandemic has forced people to travel less and slashed requests for rides, it has also boosted demand for home deliveries of groceries, meals and other goods. The abrupt shift in consumer behavior caused by the pandemic is upending the on-demand industry, where the biggest companies were built first and foremost around ride-hailing services rather than food deliveries.