E-commerce firms resume partial operations, deliveries to be delayed

PTI, Mar 27, 2020, 8:41 PM IST

New Delhi: Some e-commerce companies on Friday partially resumed operations for the sale of groceries and essential items but deliveries to customers will be delayed, according to company officials.

A leading e-commerce firm said players in the segment are coordinating with district-level authorities for curfew and lockdown passes for their personnel to resume deliveries.

“E-commerce companies will be able to open one city at a time. All the players are coordinating with district-level authorities for curfew and lockdown permits which is going to take time. Some of the companies don’t have enough inventory because of the lockdown which they need to source before delivery,” an official of a leading e-commerce company said.

E-commerce companies have been exempted from prohibitory orders during the lockdown but police in various places stopped their employees and even punished some of them when they came out for work.

Flipkart on Friday said that the government and the local state authorities have provided the much-needed clarification on the functioning of e-commerce during the lockdown, clearly indicating that delivery of grocery and essential goods is permitted under the order.

“E-commerce companies such as Flipkart, Amazon, BigBasket, Grofers, Zomato, Swiggy and others have been assured of the safe and smooth passage of their supply chain and delivery executives by local law enforcement authorities.

This assurance has led to several of these companies resuming their services, especially in key categories – Grocery and essentials,” the statement said.

The company has stopped accepting the return of essential items once sold to check hoarding of the items.

While Amazon India continued to accept orders in the permitted category, it has put delivery of the orders on hold.

“Considering the prevailing extensive lockdowns and restrictions in movement, we have paused our deliveries. We are taking orders only on essential products through pre-paid payment methods, while we work towards resuming deliveries soon,” Amazon India website said.

The company on Thursday had said that it is working with the central government and local authorities seeking urgent help with detailed on-ground operating procedures, to ensure delivery of priority goods like household staples, health and hygiene products, sanitizers, baby formula, and medical supplies safely across the country to its customers’ homes without any disruption.

Social media firm Local Circles in a survey conducted on March 25 and 26 across 177 districts found that 61 per cent people were unable to find essential items they required on e-commerce stores while 43 per cent people were unable to find products they required on retail stores.

Grofers co-founder and CEO Albinder Dhindsa said that the company is taking every measure to ensure the delivery of essential items to customers.

“After a few hiccups, we have resumed operations in Delhi, Gurgaon, Faridabad, Noida, Ghaziabad, Bengaluru, Ahmedabad, Lucknow and Kanpur with the help of local authorities. For these cities, we will now be ramping up our capacities in the coming days to fulfil the backlog of orders,” Dhindsa said.

He said that for the remaining cities, the company is working closely with the respective authorities and shall resume operations as soon as we get the necessary permissions.

“Our team members are working around the clock to ensure support towards our customers, who are counting on us for essential supplies at their homes. We are maintaining proper hygiene and sanitation in our facilities and vehicles and are committed to serving India in this critical period,” Grofers said.

Online grocery seller BigBasket also resumed booking of orders for all which it had limited to only existing customers since last few days.

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