E-tailers helping states continue with services during coronavirus pandemic

Topics E-tailers | Flipkart | Coronavirus

Photo: Reuters
Top e-commerce companies in the country such as Flipkart, Amazon, and Grofers are holding informal discussions with various state governments to provide services such as delivering essential commodities to people during lockdowns, people familiar with the matter told Business Standard. 

So far, these companies have been in touch with Karnataka, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, and Haryana governments. “E-commerce companies are having informal conversations with different state governments to provide help,” said an e-commerce industry executive having knowledge about these conversations. “E-commerce companies should be seen as an important partner in this fight against the pandemic.”

According to industry insiders, Flipkart, Amazon, Bigbasket, and Grofers have witnessed about 30 per cent spike in orders, mainly related to groceries, as people are avoiding crowding malls and supermarkets. According to sources, Grofers, which last year raised $220 million from investors including SoftBank, is also planning to offer a credit-feature soon for consumers with low income to enable them buy groceries.

Satish Meena, a senior forecast analyst at Forrester Research, said if the government and e-commerce companies partner, it would make a lot of sense. “Let's say if the government wants to lockdown Mumbai, they still want a channel open for people to get essential items,” said Meena. “These e-commerce companies are best equipped right now, as the government does not have that kind of manpower to deliver goods to customers when they want. If this (partnership) happens, this works for the government, customers, and these e-commerce entities. It can also reduce a lot of load from various government agencies such as public works departments,” said Meena.

In response to a query, Flipkart said over the past several days, it has seen demand in certain categories increase, and it is meeting this demand working with lakhs of its sellers. The company said it has taken multiple precautions to ensure the safety of its supply chain and last-mile delivery through regular sanitization of the facilities and delivery vehicles (for groceries). “This gives us the confidence in our ability to support and collaborate with governments (both Central and states) and other stakeholders, as we fight this crisis as a country,” said Rajneesh Kumar, chief corporate affairs officer, Flipkart Group.

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