- E-commerce companies await state clearances to resume non-essential services
- Companies to continue measured operations to ensure social distancing
Following the new directive by the Ministry of Home Affairs that enables e-commerce companies to resume deliveries of non-essential goods, e-commerce giants Amazon and Flipkart are gearing up for capacity increase. However with permission from most state governments still to come through, the extent of service still remains unclear.
According to the sources that Business Today spoke to, Amazon currently has the permission to resume delivery of non-essential goods in six states namely Gujarat, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Goa. Odisha has allowed non-essential deliveries to Flipkart. One of the sources at Amazon said, "We are hopeful that with permission from other states over the weekend, this number might increase."
Even with strict adherence to social distancing and hygiene norms along with internal practices, resumption of services at full scale looks distant. The logistical problems the companies are facing are not just at the delivery end but also at the level of manpower at fulfilment centres. The need to maintain social distancing means fewer employees at the fulfilment centres. Moreover shifts will have to be managed to ensure no that there is no crowding, said one of the sources.
The other problem is also ensuring that enough workers are available to come to work. In several locations, gram panchayats have enforced strict lockdown. Workers are unable to provide services as they fear they would not be able to return to their respective villages or towns.
On April 16, the government revised its guidelines and said that certain services would be allowed to resume after April 20 to ease the lives of millions of people in the country. In the sub-section on commercial and private establishments, the MHA stated that e-commerce companies would be allowed to operate. It also added: Vehicles used by e-commerce operators will be allowed to ply with necessary permissions. The guidelines do not specify that e-commerce companies would only be allowed to deliver essential goods -- implying that they would be able to deliver non-essential goods as well.
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