- Amazon is now delivering only essentials in Delhi and Mumbai.
- Both cities are seeing complete lockdowns, prohibiting delivery of non-essential items.
- However, most places in India are not under lockdown and Amazon is delivering everything to these places.
Amazon has restricted its delivery service in at least two cities in India to comply with the lockdown guidelines. The e-commerce giant is now delivering essentials only in Delhi and Mumbai, where the state governments have imposed strict lockdowns in the wake of the steep surge in Covid-19 cases. Both Delhi and Maharashtra are the worst-hit states in India, not only in terms of the daily Covid-19 positive cases but also from the purview of shortage of medical supplies. Amazon, therefore, is only fulfilling the need for essential items in at least these two cities.
"Customers trust Amazon.in to safely deliver all products according to their respective needs. Currently, we are enabling deliveries of products in line with guidelines set by the government. E-commerce and all forms of safe & reliable home delivery of all products are the best ways to maintain social distancing norms. Safety of our customers and our associates continues to be our highest priority and we are working across the operations network to enable faster deliveries to customers in these difficult times," an Amazon India spokesperson told India Today Tech.
Although it is difficult to tell if something is essential or not because everyone has their own needs, the most common ones include edible items. That is why, under "essential items", Amazon is selling groceries and daily care items available through Amazon Fresh and Amazon Pantry. According to Amazon, "handwash, sanitisers & disinfectants, grocery essentials, grooming essentials, skin & hair care essentials, pet essentials- food, supplements & more, Food & grocery essentials, personal care, grooming & hygiene, health & fitness essentials, baby care & Pet supplies, and cleaning & household supplies" are among the essential items that people in Delhi and Mumbai can shop for.
Some other items that people in Delhi and Mumbai can order on Amazon are face masks, oxygen concentrators, nebulisers, but there may be a huge problem in getting one of these. Blame the wonkiness of the Amazon algorithms.
For example, Amazon does not deem some basic medical items such as a portable oxygen cylinder or an oxygen face mask essential during times when a major chunk of the country is seeing what could be a colossal collapse of medical infrastructure. These are life-saving items but Amazon's algorithms do not think so. And the onus not just lies with the algorithms. The sellers might be at fault, too. When a seller lists an item on a shopping site, they have to mark the category their item belongs to. There are several fields the seller has to mark and fill out, including those for essentials. Failing to do that may also bring this inconvenient situation where medical supplies are not an essential thing.
Despite the mess Amazon's algorithms have created, there are still some medical items that you can buy. But these items are running out of stock. "These are unprecedented times with customers across the country looking for life-saving supplies. We have been witnessing a 70X increase in search volume for oxygen concentrators and are working with sellers to offer more selection to customers on Amazon.in," said the spokesperson.
Delhi and Mumbai are seeing complete lockdowns but most places in India are not. So, Amazon is delivering everything to all these places. You can order groceries, smartphones, laptops, furniture, clothes, among other things and get them delivered to these places. Some places, such as Bengaluru and Raipur, are seeing strict curfews right now, but there is no limitation for Amazon or Flipkart on what they can deliver. That is why people in Bengaluru can order anything and everything from Amazon right now. But this may change as and when the state governments impose restrictions on the delivery of non-essential items.