Under the latest rules, e-commerce activities in red zones are permitted only for essential goods during the third phase of lockdown
New Delhi: Walmart-owned Flipkart on Saturday said it is working with lakhs of sellers and micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) across India and helping them prepare their businesses after the government allowed e-commerce companies to offer non-essential products in orange and green zones.
While the lockdown has been extended till May 17, some relaxations were announced on Friday for various business activities and people's movement within areas with limited or no COVID-19 cases.
Under the latest rules, e-commerce activities in red zones are permitted only for essential goods during the third phase of lockdown.
"We welcome the government's efforts in progressively charting out an exit plan from the lockdown and allowing e-commerce to serve consumers in the orange and green zones by fulfilling their products needs, in addition to serving essentials/grocery in red zone through a safe supply chain and standard operating procedures (SOPs)," a Flipkart spokesperson said.
The spokesperson added that as a marketplace e-commerce player, it believes it is the company's responsibility to enable sellers and the MSME community to bounce back and facilitate economic activity.
"We're fully aware that e-commerce can further strengthen 'social distancing' by safe, contactless deliveries through a sanitized supply chain and help governments at the Centre and states fight this battle effectively.
"We are working with lakhs of sellers and MSMEs across India and helping them prepare their businesses and workforce to make products available for consumers in this time of need," the spokesperson said.
Flipkart's seller support team is providing constant online counsel and support to sellers on its platform to help them resume operations over the next couple of days complying with the government directives, the spokesperson said.
Other industry players have also stated that allowing e-commerce companies to sell all items, including non-essential items like laptops and refrigerators, in orange and green zones will provide relief to people and help millions of small and medium businesses and traders to jump-start their businesses amid the lockdown.
Under the first phase of the nationwide lockdown between March 24 and April 14, the government had only allowed delivery of essential goods through e-commerce platforms.
On April 16, the Ministry of Home Affairs issued fresh guidelines for the current lockdown, allowing e-commerce deliveries and movement of trucks, but on April 19, it modified its order to allow online commerce companies to deliver essential items only.
E-commerce companies as well as industry bodies like Nasscom and IAMAI had been requesting the government to expand the list of essential items.
Snapdeal on Saturday said it has seen a steady growth in traffic on its platform since Friday's announcement easing lockdown restrictions, including on e-commerce.
"Users are thronging the platform looking to place orders for a wide variety of products for which they have been waiting for a long time. Apparel and household products topped the list for searches and orders placed," a Snapdeal spokesperson said.
Snapdeal expects 80-90 per cent of its sellers in the non-restricted zones to be live in the coming week.
"Other sellers remain in readiness and are keen to commence operations - they will be assessing the local operating conditions in their areas and we will continue to guide and support them in this regard.
"Snapdeal has continued to accept orders for both essentials and non-essentials during the lockdown period, and while orders for government-defined essentials were shipped out continuously, we will now start to deliver all other orders received by us," the spokesperson said.
The spokesperson said the company will continue to ship orders only for essentials in the red zones and will work in close coordination with local authorities to support safe and orderly movement of personnel in sensitive areas.
"Since there is also a large number of previously ordered products to be delivered, we believe that deliveries may be slower in the beginning and will pick up speed later in the week. Snapdeal's logistics are handled by leading third-party logistics partners.
"We have shared visibility of the expected order volumes with our partners and they are planning their resources to meet the demand in a safe and timely manner," the spokesperson said.
On Friday, the Union health ministry had listed 130 districts in the country in red zone, 284 in orange zone and 319 in green zone.
This classification of districts is to be followed by states and Union territories till May 10 and then will be revised on a weekly basis or earlier if required.
Major cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Pune, Bengaluru and Ahmedabad have been designated as red zones in the new classification.
Districts that are neither defined as a red or green zone, would be considered as an orange zone.