As the fears of a lockdown envelope the country due to coronavirus, Indians have started stocking up on essentials. As a result, ecommerce companies are seeing a surge in demand, which has led to inventory running out for ecommerce marketplaces Amazon and Flipkart, as well as a surge in prices.
To counter this, Amazon India has blocked several products that were selling at a price higher than the MRP and Walmart-owned Flipkart is removing products with fake claims and inflated prices on an ongoing basis.
Further, both ecommerce companies are now working towards ensuring an adequate supply of essential items given the coronavirus pandemic such as consumer sanitary products, hand sanitisers, gloves and masks. At the same time, Amazon, which said it has run of out of stock for some essential products, said it is working extensively with seller partners to ensure product availability, and bringing on the additional capacity for delivery.
“We’re also working to ensure that no one artificially raises prices on basic need products during this pandemic and have blocked or removed tens of thousands of items, in line with our long-standing policy,” Amazon said.
The company has also recommended that global employees work from home, for roles where such an arrangement is possible. Employees and partners whose work requires physical presence in their workplace, have access to their usual paid and unpaid time-off benefits, it added. It claims to be working closely with public and private medical experts to ensure it is taking requisite precautions for associates, delivery and transportation partners at its sites.
The developments coincide with the government order which directed ecommerce companies to maintain proper hygiene of all last-mile delivery processes in order to safeguard employees and consumers from coronavirus.
The guidelines follow a March 13 notification from the ministry ordering that surgical masks and hand sanitizers be designated as essential commodities to ensure their wide availability. Ecommerce firms were also mandated to ensure that masks and sanitizers sold on their platform are done so at the fixed MRP.
The notification also called for all retailers to restrict the number of items sold to each customer based on demand and supply to avoid hoarding during a panic situation. It said that the restriction would apply not only to sanitizers and masks but also all essential supplies.
The ministry also asked online firms to develop an operating procedure to deliver groceries and cooked food for those who are under home quarantine due to coronavirus.