Flipkart awaits advisories from states for resuming full services; Centre allows delivery of non-essential items by e-commerce platforms

New Delhi: Walmart-owned Flipkart on Monday said it is awaiting advisories from different states for resuming full services, including in red zones, a day after Home Ministry's guidelines on lockdown 4.0 were released.

According to Union Home Ministry's order on Sunday, "all other activities will be permitted, except those which are specifically prohibited" under the fourth phase of the lockdown that ends on 31 May.

However, in containment zones, only essential activities will be allowed.

States and Union territories, based on their assessment of the situation, may prohibit certain other activities in various zones or impose such restrictions as deemed necessary, the order had added.

"Post-the Government of India's guidelines last evening, 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," a Flipkart Group spokesperson said.

The spokesperson added that the company is working with lakhs of MSMEs and sellers across India to provide them with constant counsel and help with their business readiness, and is following safety and health procedures at its facilities and for supply chain and delivery staff.

 Flipkart awaits advisories from states for resuming full services; Centre allows delivery of non-essential items by e-commerce platforms

Representational image. Reuters.

"Our 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...," the spokesperson said.

"We welcome the efforts by the governments at Centre and states in progressively charting out a lockdown exit plan and allowing e-commerce to serve the consumers with their varied product needs in all the classified zones, except containment zones," the spokesperson added.

In the first two phases of the lockdown (that started from 25 March), e-commerce companies were allowed to sell only essential items like grocery, healthcare and pharmaceutical products.

In the third phase (4-17 May), these platforms were allowed to sell all items in orange and green zones, but only essential items were allowed to be shipped in red zones, which included top e-commerce hubs like Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Pune and Hyderabad.

'Will give fillip to 6 lakh retailers, MSMEs'

An Amazon India spokesperson said the latest development will give a fillip to the six lakh retailers and 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. We remain committed as always to ensuring the safety of our customers and our employees while creating business and employment opportunity," the spokesperson added.

E-commerce platforms saw a significant impact on their businesses during the lockdown, given that grocery segment accounts for a small portion of online sales.

Sales of non-essential items on e-commerce platforms in the first week of May, after sales of such items were allowed in green and orange zones, were lower than last year on account of the lockdown.

However, industry executives said orders were scaling as people bought apparel, smartphones and grooming products among other items.

The industry continues to face the challenge of availability of limited manpower for warehouses and delivery.

Paytm Mall said it saw a 50 percent surge in sales for grooming products like shavers, trimmers, epilators, hair straighteners and styling products and hair dryers, from tier II and III cities in May over March.

Most trimmers were sold in cities like Lucknow, Raipur, Guwahati, Belgaum, Nagpur, Surat, and other smaller cities.

The company said it has also seen a steady increase in the number of female shoppers from smaller towns on its platform.

"We believe the lockdown has made people realize in metros as well as smaller cities that personal grooming products should always be kept handy. We think the demand for these products is set to rise further over the next few weeks and post that it would remain consistently high," Srinivas Mothey, Senior Vice President of Paytm Mall, said.

Industry body IAMAI said digital services till date have helped ease the burden of lockdown with services facilitating work from home, e-commerce, edutech, digital payments and digital entertainment.

"Even as lockdown 4.0 is extended, the country is looking at a new normal where social interactions are bound to be severely distorted, either under injunction or public awareness or concerns. Digital platforms are the only plausible medium for both businesses and customers in the coming days and needs to be strengthened," the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) said.

It added that the "bold and emerging Indian tech start-up sector is more than capable to develop a self-reliant digital services sector that can cater to the needs of the country in the new normal"

Updated Date: May 18, 2020 17:17:41 IST



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