E-commerce companies engage with brands, sellers to prepare for high demand of non-essentials
Earlier this week, the Home Affairs Ministry issued fresh guidelines for the lockdown -- which has been extended till May 3 -- allowing e-commerce companies to sell non-essential items as well.
E-commerce companies like Amazon, Flipkart and Snapdeal are engaging with brands and seller partners and preparing them to resume operations from April 20, when these platforms will be allowed to ship non-essential items as well to customers.
Under the first phase of lockdown between March 24-April 14, the government had only allowed delivery of essential goods, including food, pharmaceuticals and medical equipment through e-commerce platforms. Earlier this week, the Home Affairs Ministry issued fresh guidelines for the lockdown -- which has been extended till May 3 -- allowing e-commerce companies to sell non-essential items as well.
"In line with the recent guidelines by the government and effective April 20, we will serve customers, in addition to daily essentials, with products they need the most and which they have not been able to access because of the nationwide lockdown...We are now reaching out to all our partners -- brands, manufacturers, sellers, small businesses and local shops -- requesting them to be ready to resume operations by stocking up inventory, do workforce planning, and apply for curfew passes," an Amazon India spokesperson said.
Following MHA orders, many states have also issued similar notifications about permitting complete e-commerce activities. These relaxations come with the condition that these companies will have to ensure that all precautions are followed to ensure safety of staff and customers.
The move will provide respite to every industry, especially electronics, apparel and home appliances that account for a significant portion of sales for e-commerce companies in the country.
Walmart-owned Flipkart said it is continuously working with the seller community to provide them with support and enabling business readiness as these businesses await to make a comeback online.
"With around two lakh sellers on its platform, Flipkart's seller support team is providing constant counsel and on-ground support to sellers on its platform to help them resume operations in a few days...The analytics teams are supporting sellers with market intelligence to ensure smooth listings on the platforms," Flipkart said in a statement.
It added that Flipkart's supply chain team continues to maintain an intense focus on safety and health procedures in all Flipkart facilities and staff that will support the movement of goods for sellers.
Myntra CEO Amar Nagaram said the company is undertaking contactless delivery and pick-up, and has discontinued customer signature capture.
"...there will be no ringing of doorbells and packets will be placed at a handover point the customer is comfortable with. We are also encouraging UPI payments for contactless COD transactions," he added.
Nagaram said "Myntra will be launching itself on day one with 5 lakh styles, as we go live in states that have opened doors for operations".
Snapdeal said it is in the process of trimming delivery timelines to align with faster deliveries expected from next week onwards. "These will be dynamically adjusted as per the flow of goods as well as operating conditions in various regions," it added.
The company added that it does not anticipate any short-term supply chain constraints across popular categories as sellers have stocks and orders are also in transit.
"We have informed sellers about the resumption of operations for all product categories and we will be providing them with all required operational support," Snapdeal said.
Apart from e-commerce platforms, brands are also looking scaling up efforts to meet the pent up demand as retail stores have not been allowed to operate to ensure social distancing.
Realme Vice President and India CEO Madhav Sheth said it has already held discussions with Flipkart to make available devices for sale from April 20.
Leon Yu, Regional Director of ASUS India and South Asia (System Business Group), said the government's decision to allow delivery of non-essential items is beneficial as there is a need for PCs as well as smartphones in the current work from home scenario.
Even, the education system has seen a big shift to online tutoring by schools and so, the company is looking at introducing a lineup of products to cater to this category, he added.
"Being a customer centric company, we have been working closely with e-commerce partners for the past three weeks since the lockdown. We aim to meet the surge in demand for PCs and smartphones successfully and shall ensure complete compliance of every guideline from the directive," Yu said.
Xiaomi - which is the largest smartphone brand in the country - said it is currently discussing the details with all its partners and evaluating the strategy ahead.
A Vivo spokesperson also said the company is in conversation with its stakeholders and evaluating the situation continuously, keeping the well-being of employees and partners as priority.