E-commerce firms welcome govt’s order, some seek more clarity
The e-commerce companies on Wednesday welcomed the government’s decision to ease the ongoing nationwide lockdown restrictions from April 20 by allowing some sectors such as farm activities, constructions of roads and buildings in rural areas, information technology and all interstate goods transport to function while maintaining a greater vigil in coronavirus disease (Covid-19) hotspots.
Several e-commerce companies faced initial challenges in catering to their customers because of delivery snags after the nationwide lockdown was enforced on March 25 to contain the spread of Covid-19 outbreak and since further extended till May 3, despite the government’s exemptions to them.
On March 24, the Union Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) asked states to exempt some key essential services, including e-commerce providers, and said that they be provided passage on the basis of evidence like a copy of orders, waybills, invoices, etc. The Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) also put out additional guidelines two days later, which specified that e-commerce companies delivering essential commodities would be allowed to operate during the lockdown.
A company spokesperson of Walmart-owned Flipkart said that they have been collaborating with the retail ecosystem, including local kirana stores, to ensure the doorstep delivery of essential items. The company said that it would scale up its supply chain while taking all necessary precautions and making optimum utilisation of its resources.
“In line with the guidelines announced by the government and also in collaboration with all state governments and local authorities, we’ll continue to serve consumers to promote social distancing through our sanitised supply chain, contactness deliveries and healthy and safe last-mile delivery process,” said the spokesperson.
An Amazon India spokesperson said that they are evaluating the guidelines and have sought clarifications from the authorities on its implementation.
“The resumption of economic activity from April 20 is a welcome step that will depend on unhindered availability of labour that is critical to deliver essential products to people across the country and ensure they can stay home safely,” Amazon said in a statement.
The hyperlocal delivery start-up, FreshToHome, which was facing logistical issues over deliveries, as meat products were not exempt, said its operations have resumed across the country.
“Chicken products and freshwater fish are available. But sourcing mutton and seafood is still an issue,” said Shan Kadavil, chief executive officer (CEO), FreshToHome.
“We appreciate the government’s bid to prioritise the movement of food and other essential items and also the resumption of farming, fisheries, and livestock, which will ensure daily sustenance of the workforce involved in these sectors,” Kadavil said, adding that most of his company’s deliveries are done through a contactness mechanism.
BigBasket, an online supermarket, said that though it faced initial delivery disruptions because of lockdown restrictions, the situation has vastly improved a spike in its orders. “We have a massive backlog of orders because of exceptionally high demand over the last few days. We have increased our server capacity by 50%, as we’re facing a high volume of queries to our customer service team,” said a BigBasket spokesperson.
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