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The government of Odisha has allowed all ecommerce platforms to resume their operation in the second phase of the lockdown, which is set to begin tomorrow (April 15). In this new phase, the ecommerce portals would not have to limit themselves to the delivery of essential goods, but can also start delivering “non-essential” goods. The question now is whether other states will follow suit and open up deliveries in a staggered manner.
Odisha has also allowed all logistics players like DTDC and BlueDart to start their operations once again. Meanwhile, retail chains like BigBazaar, Reliance Fresh and Spencer’s Retail will also be allowed to carry forward home deliveries.
However, this has received mixed reactions from the stakeholders. On one hand, platforms like Snapdeal have appreciated the move, while a top executive of another ecommerce company told ET that each state is coming up with its own ad-hoc rules, which could potentially create problems since products sold on platforms are sourced widely.
Meanwhile, another person told the publication that they are expecting to see a hike in demand initially, but do not expect people to buy anything apart from daily essentials.
Odisha was the first Indian state to extend the 21-day lockdown announced by PM Narendra Modi on March 24. The state’s chief minister Naveen Patnaik, on April 19, had announced that the lockdown will be extended to April 30. However, PM Modi has extended the lockdown till May 3 in order to keep the situation under control.
Most services are expected to continue as they were in the first phase of the lockdown. The ecommerce platforms are allowed to function, but only to deliver essentials, groceries, food and medicines.
However, with the Odisha government’s announcement opening doors for the delivery of non-essential items, the question is whether ecommerce companies and platforms will grab this opportunity or if they don’t have the resources for the same. Do the players really have the bandwidth to take up the burden of extra orders in just a few states, while the majority of the country would still be under lockdown?
Several companies have admitted that there is a shortage of workforce to enable deliveries and to manage any increase in the number of orders.
For instance, Grofers is currently operational with a 60% warehouse staff and had to hire an additional 2000 temporary warehouse and delivery stock to meet the grocery demand. BigBasket is currently operating at 45-50% of its planned capacity as of March 31. Meanwhile, Flipkart has also admitted to the shortage of staff.