Walmart-owned Flipkart said on Saturday that it had enabled more than 90 per cent of its sellers to resume business on the platform since April. The e-commerce major also said it had seen a 125 per cent increase in new sellers signing up on the platform, in comparison to its existing seller base, for April-June.
Flipkart continued to be at the forefront of fighting the Covid-19 pandemic by partnering with its network of sellers, micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), and artisans to deliver products to consumers at their doorstep through its safe supply-chain, the firm said.
It said the sellers on the platform were able to leverage the benefits of a nationwide market access along with an efficient and transparent functioning of their marketplace business.
“The impact of the pandemic has urged businesses across the country to rethink their usual mode of operating and identify newer ways to function,” said the firm. “Local MSMEs across the nation have realised the true value of e-commerce that enables them to stay connected with millions of customers.”
Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Delhi, and Tamil Nadu are the top states where MSMEs have shown maximum interest in taking their businesses online, it said. These sellers operate in various categories ranging from women’s clothing, personal care, and food and nutrition to home improvement tools and baby-care products.
According to sources, Flipkart works with over 200,000 sellers and 250,000 small sellers such as artisans, weavers, and craftsmen. “Nothing was moving in the first stage of the lockdown,” said an industry executive having knowledge of Flipkart's operations.
He said there were issues related to coordination between the Centre and states. It was not clear who could get the curfew passes, which would enable the movement of goods.
One of the biggest issues that e-commerce firms faced during the lockdown was access to manpower as many workers returned to their hometowns. “No clarity existed for sellers then whether they could operate or not.
The supply chain was dysfunctional,” the executive said.
To help MSMEs and sellers through this pandemic, Flipkart said it had introduced a health insurance plan, specific to Covid-19. This will cover the sellers along with their families and employees. The most important need of the seller community, in these times, is that of working capital.
To address this, the firm ran a special offer on loans through Flipkart’s Growth Capital programme, which is designed specifically to enable independence for MSMEs that operate online. During the first phase of the lockdown, Flipkart said its Seller Protection Fund (SPF) enabled online sellers to claim a certain amount as compensation for unfair losses. For such SPF claims, sellers were given an extension on all the returns received for a certain period to ensure that they had enough time to raise their claims.