E-commerce firms can deliver non-essentials in orange, green zones

The e-commerce industry faced a shock, earlier this month as the Union home ministry revoked permission to sell non-essential goods from 20 April

E-commerce firms can deliver non-essentials in orange, green zones

BENGALURU : E-commerce firms may deliver non-essential products in orange and green zones, suggests the new guidelines announced on Friday by the Ministry of Home Affairs in Lockdown 3.0.

This has come as a relief for several Indian e-commerce companies which were looking to restart operations of non-essentials. As a part of the first lockdown, announced by the government on 25 March, e-commerce firms were only allowed to deliver essential items to consumers including groceries.

According to the new guidelines, e-commerce firms can’t deliver non-essentials in red zones but may do so in green and orange zones.

The e-commerce industry faced a rude shock, earlier this month as the Union home ministry revoked permission to sell non-essential goods from 20 April.

“We welcome the Government’s decision to allow ecommerce in Orange and Green Zones … Millions of small and medium businesses and traders will now be able to jump start their businesses and livelihoods across their workforce," said an Amazon spokesperson.

Amazon, in its first quarter results said on Thursday that the biggest impact of the covid-19 crisis continues to be in India, where it was fulfilling only essential goods like grocery and had to cut back a lot on Amazon’s offering in the country.

E-commerce companies including Amazon, Walmart-owned Flipkart along with several other e-commerce firms were severely hit during India’s 40-day lockdown, registering almost a 90% drop in orders.

Further, essentials such as grocery formed a small part of their overall business, and continue to rely heavily on the sale of electronic goods, mobile phones and fashion products.

“While we will maintain the sanctity of the new guidelines around the Red Zones, we urge the government to consider the positive role e-commerce can play to get customers all priority products they need in the Red Zones as well, enabling a stronger economic support for the small businesses while prioritising safety," replied Amazon to a query.

"The government has taken an insightful decision by opening e-commerce deliveries of non-essential items in green and orange zones. India has been working, studying, and staying indoors for quite long now. They are running low on supplies of several items including laptops, mobile phones as well as accessories, computer hardware, books, stationery, and even basic summer wear. Many have been eagerly waiting for some relief in lockdown guidelines to buy air conditioners, refrigerators to beat the growing heat," said Srinivas Mothey, senior vice president, Paytm Mall.

Paytm Mall had earlier said that more than 60% of their sellers were showing readiness to start taking new orders.

“We welcome MHA's announcement that paves the way for a calibrated resumption of various economic activities, including e-commerce, in various parts of the country. This will help start a gradual process of economic recovery by enabling lakhs of sellers and MSMEs to cater to the demand of users through online and offline channels. At Snapdeal, we are ready and committed to play our role in enabling India to exit this lockdown safely and efficiently,"added a Snapdeal Spokesperson.

Snapdeal, throughout this lockdown was taking orders of non-essential goods, while providing delivery timelines, post the lifting of the lockdown. Now, a Snapdeal spokesperson also said that they will check back with customers, whether they still need these products and start the delivery process, in orange and green zones.