Before last Sunday’s Janata Curfew, the government had officially counted ecommerce as an essential service and exempted it from prohibitory orders. On Sunday and Monday, several states announced lockdowns as coronavirus cases in India continued to spike, crossing 500.
However, despite government orders, ecommerce enablers are reportedly facing challenges from supply chain to delivery. On Monday, Flipkart and Amazon temporarily suspended logistics services for sellers across regions, citing operational constraints. At the same time, nearly 25,000-30,000 supermarkets were impacted by the police order to close warehouses in Punjab, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh, according to Retailers Association of India.
In an email to sellers on Sunday, Amazon had said that it will suspend its Easy Ship, Seller Flex and Fulfilled by Amazon (FBA) programmes for Monday. However, there is no update on further plans. At the same time, Flipkart halted order pickups indefinitely from areas where lockdowns had already been imposed.
“In light of the development where Section 144 has been imposed in several cities, we will be halting our logistics operations for pick-up in those areas. While this puts pressure on our other hubs to operate at more than the usual volumes, we are trying our best to ensure that we are able to meet the demand,” a Flipkart spokesperson said.
Issues with authorities on the ground and low front-end staff strength have impacted ecommerce operations. Further, online grocery delivery companies BigBasket and Grofers had to either cancel or reschedule thousands of orders on Sunday due to lockdowns and local authorities stopped delivery staff from moving around.
“We are working with the local authorities to enable us to perform these important services, providing safety for our delivery associates and allowing them to make sure those priority goods can arrive safely at our customers’ homes without any disruption,” an Amazon spokesperson said.
Another B2B player, Bizongo, tweeted saying that it is struggling to provide packaging to its customers making essential goods such as grocery, medicines because its warehouses in Bhiwandi, Bengaluru, and Gurugram are being asked to be shut.
The ministry of consumer affairs had directed ecommerce companies to maintain proper hygiene of all last-mile delivery processes to control the spread of coronavirus (covid19)cases. “All ecommerce platforms are requested to ensure the maintenance of proper hygiene and sanitation of the last-mile delivery personnel, kitchen, parking areas and delivery vehicles,” the ministry said.
On their part, food and grocery delivery companies like Zomato, Swiggy, Grofers, BigBasket etc have been providing delivery-related instructions to customers, restaurants and delivery partners alike. Further, 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.