E-commerce companies Amazon, Flipkart and Paytm are gearing up to provide essentials as well as non-essential items across the country, after the central government removed all restrictions on online retail as part of its plan for Lockdown 4.0. Depending on the permissions granted by state governments, these firms would be allowed to sell non-essential items such as phones, laptops, electronic devices, and appliances, which comprise most of their sales across red and orange zones.
Red zones comprise about 130 districts of the country and analysts estimate that the e-commerce companies, as well as the retailers, witness at least 75 per cent demand from these locations. Post the government’s guidelines last evening e-commerce firms are awaiting the advisories from different states and local authorities who will also decide what to allow in containment zones.
Amazon welcomed the latest notification from the government as it enables e-commerce to deliver a wider selection of products while upholding the tenets of safety and social distancing. It said this will give a fillip to the 6 lakh retailers and micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) on its marketplace and help revive economic activity more broadly.
“We are humbled by the opportunity to be an extended partner to the Government as it balances saving lives alongside creating livelihood,” said Amazon. “We remain committed as always to ensuring the safety of our customers and our employees while creating business and employment opportunities on the other,” said the company.
Alibaba-backed e-commerce firm Paytm Mall said its merchants, offline shopkeepers, and logistics partners have all ramped up operations in tier-I metro cities and all red zones in the country. It has opened up all its pin-codes and is now taking orders for non-essentials delivery.
Medics collect a swab sample of an air passenger from Chicago for COVID-19 test who landed in Hyderabad and arrived at his native city by bus, during the ongoing Covid-19 nationwide lockdown, in Vijayawada. Photo: PTI
“The initial response has been encouraging as most red zones are placing orders,” said Srinivas Mothey, senior vice president Paytm Mall. “States have been reacting positively to the development and we will ensure that we service all zones according to all the guidelines set by the local authorities.”
In the coming week, Paytm said it is expecting more relaxations in the interstate movement of non-essential goods so that e-commerce activity scales up.
Flipkart said it is working with lakhs of MSMEs and sellers across India to provide them with constant counsel and help with their business readiness. The Walmart-owned company’s seller support team is providing on-ground support to sellers to help them resume operations swiftly and make products available for the consumers in this time of need. Flipkart said it continues to stay committed to following the safety and health procedures at its facilities and for the supply chain and delivery staff, thereby supporting the central and state governments in their battle against the pandemic. The company said the new guidelines also give it an opportunity to boost the MSME community and help them to restore their businesses faster and support livelihood in the country. “We are awaiting the advisories from different states. We will continue to work in accordance with the directives from the government and local authorities while serving customers, sellers through our safe supply chain,” said Flipkart.
E-commerce firms are awaiting the advisories from different states and local authorities who will also decide what to allow in containment zones.
Gurugram-based e-commerce company Snapdeal said it received 65 per cent orders from red zone cities on day one of Lockdown 4.0. On Day 1 of the expanded operations, the orders at the Snapdeal platform grew rapidly and had crossed 2.4 times the average of the previous 15 days by 3 pm on Monday, 18th May. The surge in orders started around 10 pm on Sunday and has been growing every hour from 8 am onwards. Many users simply checked out their pre-loaded carts, which they have accumulating over the last 4-6 weeks. “Delivery of products in the red zones is expected to start from tomorrow onwards and will be made operational in accordance with MHA and state-specific guidelines,” said Snapdeal.
Tech-driven home services startup Housejoy said it until now had been only operating in Orange and Green Zones but will be resuming national operations soon for its maintenance services. Housejoy which is present in 6 metro cities will be looking at foraying into new markets in the near future. "We have been working very closely with the Karnataka State government in their fight against Covid-19,” said Sanchit Gaurav, CEO, and founder of Housejoy. “We have also provided our fumigation services in collaboration with the Karnataka state government.”
LimeRoad, an independent fashion platform, said it is back in the business post the 45-day lockdown period and has begun to deliver products in the lifestyle and fashion range to its customers living in the orange and green zones.