Delivery of essential items via e-commerce continued to face challenges on the second day of the 21-day lockdown, with the industry urging government for uniform classification of essential items across various states.
While the government has allowed delivery of all essential goods including food, pharmaceuticals and medical equipment through e-commerce, online platforms like Amazon India, Grofers, Bigbasket and Milkbasket have been facing disruptions in delivery to their customers.
According to a senior industry executive, who did not wish to be named, e-commerce companies are finding it difficult to procure passes for their logistics and delivery staff separately for each state.
The person said the process is time-consuming and instead the government can look at alternate mechanisms like digital identity checks.
Another industry expert pointed out that there is an urgent need for uniform classification of essential items across various states, and that instructions need to flow down clearly to the last mile, where the delivery agents are facing issues.
E-commerce platforms have seen a spike in orders on their platforms in India over the past few weeks as people logged online to stock up on food and household products as well as office items like routers and cables (to work from home) on concerns around spread of COVID-19 infection and restrictions in public movement that have now been enforced.
"We have seen high demand on the platform, and working towards making deliveries at the earliest in collaboration with our sellers. We''re also expecting that following government intervention, inter-state transport movement will also stabilise in the next couple of days," Flipkart said in an e-mailed statement.
On Wednesday, after temporarily suspending operations earlier in the day, Walmart-owned Flipkart resumed its grocery and essential services delivery after assurance of safe passage of its supply chain and delivery executives by local law enforcement authorities.
Amazon had said it was working with government authorities to enable it to deliver essential items.
Grofers, which initially saw some of its delivery staff getting arrested and over 60,000 deliveries affected, said it has resumed operations in Delhi, Gurgaon, Faridabad, Noida, Ghaziabad, Bengaluru, Ahmedabad, Lucknow and Kanpur with the help of local authorities.
"For the remaining cities, we are working closely with the respective authorities and shall resume operations as soon as we get the necessary permissions. Our team members are working around the clock to ensure support towards our customers, who are counting on us for essential supplies at their homes," he added.
Snapdeal said it has been keeping an eye on the developments, and has extended the timelines available to its sellers for shipping the orders received by them.
"Snapdeal has extended the timelines available to its sellers for shipping the orders received by them.
It has also communicated to its sellers that no cancellation charges or penalties will be levied if they are not able to ship in time or ship at all," Snapdeal said.
Grocery delivery platform Bigbasket said it is operational in cities like Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Bhopal, Mumbai, Noida and Vadodara even though its services were affected by "severe restrictions imposed on the movement of our staff and vehicles".
"...due to high demand, we are booked for the next 4-5 days, and this situation could continue if the demand continues to remain high," it said.
It said for locations like Ghaziabad, Gurgaon, Hyderabad, Jaipur and Kolkata, Bigbasket is hopeful of being operational in a day or two, while for cities like Chandigarh, Chennai, Delhi, Ludhiana, Pune and Vizag, it is not sure when it will resume operations.
"In each of these cities, our operations are completely shut down due to severe restrictions imposed on our staff and the movement of vehicles. We have been trying to work with the local government authorities to get necessary permissions/permits to start our operations, but unfortunately, we have not been able to get the necessary help so far," it added.
Another player, Milkbasket said it has been able to resume partial operations across Gurgaon, Noida and Bangalore.
"Our Hyderabad operations are still shut," it said but added that it is hopeful of resuming services to all customers by Saturday or Sunday.