There is good news for all of us. The new guidelines which come into effect tomorrow will allow ecommerce platforms and shopping websites to resume services and accept orders for pretty much everything that they sell on the platform. Flipkart is gearing up for this change by enabling the order now option for a lot of products on its platform, including mobile phones, air-conditioners and microwave ovens. However, delivery estimates are currently available for select pincodes and locations only, though we expect this to further smoothen out in the coming hours and days—a lot will depend on how quickly shopping websites and ecommerce companies sort out the logistics part of the chain for all regions in the country.
The new guidelines by the Ministry of Home Affairs of the Government of India come into effect on April 20, which allows additional activities subject to operationalization by the states and union territories. This is an attempt to soften the blow on the economy and allow consumers the freedom to be able to shop without having to step out of their homes. This will help shopping websites and ecommerce platforms in accepting and fulfilling orders for all products that they may have in stock for sale. Ahead of the onset of summer, a lot of people may be looking to buy essential products such as ACs, fridge and even microwave ovens for home—there will be an even greater reliance on ecommerce platforms because physical stores are still inaccessible in the lockdown.
The new guidelines state that all goods traffic will be allowed by ply across the country, except the demarcated containment zones, hotspots or red zones where the spread of infection or the risk, is high. This includes operations of railways for transportation of goods and parcels, operations at airports and land ports for cargo movement as well as movement of trucks and commercial vehicles for pick-up and delivery of goods. The new guidelines by the Ministry of Home Affairs say that “vehicles used by e-commerce operators will be allowed to ply with necessary permissions” and courier services will also be allowed to operate.
Essential goods remains in focus, and the government clarifies that “all facilities in the supply chain of essential goods, whether involved in manufacturing, wholesale or retail of such goods through local stores, large brick and mortar stores or e-commerce companies should be allowed to operate, ensuring strict social distancing without any restriction on their timing of opening and closure.”
The new guidelines come as a relief for multiple links in the chain, even as the lockdown in India has been extended to May 3, in an effort to curb the spread of the Coronavirus, or COVID-19. It is expected that with the new relaxed guidelines in place, shopping websites and ecommerce platforms will be able to deliver and fulfill customer orders now. In the early days of the first phase of the lockdown, there were reports that ecommerce companies and their delivery personnel were often restricted from moving around, which hampered services and delivery of essentials to customers.