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Flipkart says 'respects' govt revised decision on sale of non-essential goods

Business Finance

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

Flipkart CEO Kalyan Krishnamurthy has said the company respects the government's decision to reverse its previous order that allowed e-commerce companies to deliver non-essential items.

In a mail to employees, Krishnamurthy also encouraged them to explore innovative ways to drive value for the ecosystem including sellers, brands, kirana stores and customers.

"We respect the decision because the government has many complex scenarios to manage while protecting more than a billion people in the country," Krishnamurthy said.

Four days after allowing e-commerce firms to also deliver non-essential items such as electronic goods and readymade garments, the government on Sunday said sale of non-essential items will continue to be prohibited during the lockdown period till May 3.

"With this development, changes our plans at the Flipkart group, the entire leadership and the management team is completely aligned and committed to supporting the government's decision...," Krishnamurthy said.

He added that the company will continue to deliver groceries and essentials to customers across the nation, adding that it will do so while following the highest standards of hygiene across supply chain and last mile delivery.

Krishnamurthy urged employees to focus on "exploring new innovative ways to drive value for our ecosystem of sellers, brands, partners, kiranas and customers" and asserted that there is nothing online or offline.

"...there is just one line i.e. to the customer, which means solving for social distancing and providing the products that consumers need at their doorsteps through a safe supply chain," he explained.

Under the first phase of the nationwide lockdown between March 24-April 14, the government had only allowed delivery of essential goods through e-commerce platforms.

On April 16, the Ministry of Home Affairs issued fresh guidelines for the current lockdown, allowing all e-commerce deliveries and movement of trucks.

However, on Sunday, the home ministry issued an order saying the following clause -- "E-commerce companies. Vehicles used by e-commerce operators will be allowed to ply with necessary permissions" -- is excluded from the guidelines issued. The government's U-turn on home delivery of non-essential items will leave consumers disappointed, the world's largest online retailer Amazon had said.

Local kirana store body, the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) - which had been campaigning hard against allowing e-commerce firms to also commence non-essential deliveries during the lockdown period - called the decision the "most pragmatic".

Industry body Nasscom, as well as players like ShopClues and Paytm Mall have urged the government to expand the list of essential items to include products like laptops and routers to facilitate people working from home.

Industry body Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) has also requested the government to open up e-commerce services.

Stating that the debate of online versus offline is an incorrect portrayal of the ground reality.

"There are lakhs of sellers from the physical markets across India who also sell online. In fact, it is these medium and small offline enterprises that are powering the online e-commerce in a significant way. This is especially true for products like apparel, footwear, small electronic items and household goods including utensils, etc," IAMAI said.

It added that resumption of one part of their business will help them with liquidity and will lead to the larger restoration of demand.

"Preservation of consumer demand is of prime importance that will keep the economy chugging along as the country starts the difficult process of economic recovery. This demand needs to be met and nurtured towards restoration rather than being suppressed to a future date," IAMAI President Subho Ray said.

Online commerce is a safe and ready choice that is open to all sellers, including those who continue to see it is a threat, he added.

"Lakhs of small sellers have embraced online channels and are today equipped to serve the country. Allowing full operations of e-commerce is the first step towards economic revival one that helps buyers, but more importantly, helps small businesses stay alive and start building towards a recovery," Ray said.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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First Published: Mon, April 20 2020. 21:48 IST