Lockdown 3.0 is on but this time the country has been divided into red, orange and green zones based on the severity of the Covid-19 spread. Red Zones indicate hotspots like New Delhi, Chennai, Mumbai, Bengaluru among others, whereas Orange Zones indicate areas with fewer cases and Green Zones where there are no cases.
While ecommerce ops can fully resume in orange and green zones, they can only deliver essentials like groceries, medicines, and food in red zones.
Ecommerce stakeholders have welcomed the government’s move. Srinivas Mothey, senior vice president at Paytm Mall, said, “The government has taken an insightful decision by opening ecommerce deliveries of non-essential items in green and orange zones.”
Mothey added that India has been working, studying, and staying indoors and has been running low on supplies of several items ranging from electronics to basic summer wear. The move will be a relief for all. He added that Paytm Mall’s network of offline merchants will get back work and will follow social distancing norms to sell goods. The company plans to start its operations from May 4.
Speaking to Inc42, even Amazon and Snapdeal have appreciated the move announced by the Indian government.
Appreciate MHA’s guideline on opening eCommerce for all categories outside Red Zones. It is now important for all eCommerce and logistics companies to serve the consumers with all their needs in a manner that is safe and ensures everyone’s good health. The work begins now.
— Kunal Bahl (@1kunalbahl) May 1, 2020
The duo, in separate statements, elaborated that the relaxations would enable lakhs of sellers and micro, medium and small enterprises (MSME) to jumpstart their businesses and livelihoods.
Snapdeal has also confirmed that it will start shipping essentials and non-essentials as per government guidelines. It added that the company will also start delivering orders which were placed before the lockdown in the orange and green zones.
What Else Has The Government Planned For Ecommerce?
The Ministry of Home Affairs was previously planning to permit all ecommerce operations, including the delivery of both essential and non-essential goods, from April 20. However, it decided to scrap the order on April 19, citing that the list of items to be delivered was too extensive and would dilute the purpose of the lockdown. Besides this, the government felt that the order was unfair for offline retailers.
However, with work-from-home becoming a new reality, the Department of Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) had asked ecommerce companies to submit a list of limited items which could be considered as essentials once again.
On April 29, IT and telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad held a meeting with electronics manufacturers and said that “requests regarding broadening the definition of essential goods to ICT products, retail /online sale of ICT essential goods, authorised sales and services of ICT essential goods have already been taken up with the ministry of home affairs.”
Industry body the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) had requested the government to open up ecommerce services to address the dual challenge of economic revival and address public health issues.