As most of the restrictions have been eased during the lockdown 4.0, e-commerce platforms such as Amazon, Flipkart, Snapdeal etc have begun their full services across most parts of the country.
According to the latest Union Home Ministry’s order, most of the activities will be permitted, except those which are specifically prohibited under the fourth phase of the lockdown that ends on May 31.
Following the ease of restrictions, e-commerce companies have started taking orders for both essential and non-essential items from consumers in cities even classified as ‘red zones’ after the government relaxed norms.
In the first two phases of the lockdown (that started from March 25), e-commerce companies were allowed to sell only essential items like grocery, healthcare, and pharmaceutical products.
In the third phase (from May 4), these platforms were allowed to sell all items in orange and green zones, but only essential items were allowed to be shipped in red zones that include top e-commerce hubs like Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Pune, and Hyderabad.
However, the state governments are yet to officially come out with rules and regulations for operations in their specific areas in lockdown 4.0, even though most of the relaxations are removed. The new MHA guidelines allow states to define containment zones and buffer zones, which will have strict restrictions. The states will come out with regulations for e-commerce delivery guidelines for such zones.
Amit Agarwal, Vice President of Amazon India, thanked Modi government for easing restrictions on e-commerce service. He added that resumption of services will enable Hundreds of thousands of MSMEs and shops to jumpstart their livelihoods. The customers and MSMEs depend on us now more than ever and we are grateful to be of help, Agarwal added
Srinivas Mothey, senior vice president, Paytm Mall said that the new guidelines will help them deliver to most metro cities, which presently fall in red zones.
“We have received a sizeable number of consumer electronics wish-list orders from metro cities where people have been waiting to buy laptops, mobile phones, and other daily use items for several weeks now. The government’s decision will also help in opening up supplies of consumer electronics from warehouses in the red zones,” he added.
Similarly, Snapdeal welcomed the guidelines announced by the MHA. “At Snapdeal, we are ready and equipped to start serving customers across India, in red, green and orange zones, by providing access to the millions of products,” said a spokesperson.
The move to reopen e-commerce will deliver a major boost to manufacturing industries, especially MSMEs and small traders, as these sectors have been the backbone of the e-commerce companies in the country. The e-commerce platforms have provided a market place for these small, independent MSMEs, traders to sell their merchandise, who otherwise find it tough to sell their products in the open market.
With the easing of restrictions in e-commerce sectors, it is not just the industry which will breathe fresh air, but also customers who can now avail products and services at relatively less prices than the open markets.