E-commerce may take time to steady cart

Bengaluru: Even as leading ecommerce marketplaces and online vendors gear up to sell non-essential goods in orange and green zones from May 4, it will take at least a week for some kind of normalcy to return, multiple industry players told ET.

The ministry of home affairs (MHA) guidelines allow movement of all goods even in red zones, but its implementation could vary across regions as they are largely dependent on states, online sellers said. The zones have been colour-coded to classify districts according to the number of Covid-19 infections and its spread, with red zones having the most restrictions on people and goods movement and curbs on businesses.

Until late Sunday, only a handful of states including UP, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Odisha, Delhi and Uttarakhand issued notifications on the lines of MHA’s Friday order.


Operational Constraints

Four brands and two logistics firms told ET of various operational constraints including warehouses in red zones that are expected to hurt pickup timelines, choked up inter-city movement in key markets like Delhi-Gurgaon, poor pin code coverage by logistics players, staffing issues, and working capital challenges.

“It will be a bit tough for sellers operating in red zones but not so much for marketplace platforms as the big ecommerce warehouses will be functioning,” said an executive from a logistics company.

According to data shared by logistics firm ShipRocket, 50% of companies expect to be operational this week, 10% are unsure if they will get permissions, and the rest expect to still be shut till May 17, when the lockdown is expected to be lifted.

“The coming week will be another challenging one. Things on paper and reality on the ground for ecommerce sellers are very different,” said Deep Bajaj, founder, Sirona Hygiene, which sells the PeeBuddy hygiene brand. “Despite permission from the police, at the border riders are not being allowed to cross,” he said.

Logistics companies say the biggest challenge in delivering non-essentials to orange and green zones is that a majority of sellers are based in red-zoned metros. “We have not yet received any clarification, whether we can pick up non-essentials from red zones,” said Aaqyl Chagla, co-founder of Rapid Delivery.

Larger players like logistics major Delhivery, however, said in a communication with its sellers that it will pick up essentials and non-essentials if they are outside a containment zone and warehouses are permitted to be open.

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