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COVID-19 lockdown: E-biz players flag delivery disruption

PTI | New Delhi | Updated: 23-03-2020 20:51 IST | Created: 23-03-2020 20:51 IST
COVID-19 lockdown: E-biz players flag delivery disruption

With lockdowns being imposed in various parts of the country to contain the spread of coronavirus, e-commerce players, including Amazon India, on Monday faced disruption in the delivery of even essential products to their customers. Online retailers pointed out that their delivery staff is being stopped by local police and urged authorities to streamline the movement of delivery agents and goods.

Meanwhile, a Flipkart group spokesperson said the company will be halting logistics operations for pick-up in the specific areas where Section 144 has been imposed in various cities. Milkbasket said its staff, vendors and vehicles are being "pushed back" from the roads by local police, disrupting the operations.

It has suggested that access permits / ID cards should be issued to staff engaged in essential services such as grocery delivery, medicines, food delivery and others. "We at Milkbasket are determined to support families with their daily milk, fruits, vegetables and food requirements. However, our staff, vendors and vehicles are being pushed back from the roads by local police, disrupting our operations. We are being told to shut down our distribution centres," Anant Goel, CEO of Milkbasket tweeted.

Milkbasket urged authorities to look into the matter and sought support in ensuring smooth service. Goel added: "Yesterday we had to cancel thousands of orders. We could only operate at 40 per cent capacity in Gurgaon. Even lower in Noida. We might have to cancel all the orders today, impacting over 150,000 families across four cities".

Online grocery platform Grofers had said many of its delivery persons were stopped and arrested on Sunday even as e-commerce firms were to be exempted during ''Janta Curfew'' announced to combat the spread on coronavirus in the country. Sources close to Amazon India said the company had faced delivery disruption on essential items.

Industry watchers said there is an urgent need to clarify the kind of products that are allowed to be delivered by ecommerce companies. Further, they said there is a 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.

Industry experts also flagged challenges around movement of delivery personnel and staff, and as well as interstate movement of goods, in the backdrop of lockdown in various parts of the country. Some e-commerce players are also urging the Government to expand the scope of essential products beyond food items and medicines to include other products, say cable, routers, that may be required for customers who are working from home.

A Flipkart group spokesperson said its utmost priority is the safety of employees and sellers on the marketplace. "In light of the development where Section 144 has been imposed in several cities; we will be halting our logistics operations for pick-up in those areas. While this puts pressure on our other hubs to operate more than the usual volumes, we are trying our best to ensure that we are able to meet the demand from consumers for essential supplies," the spokesperson said.

In this unprecedented time, e-commerce has been playing an active role in ensuring that the essential needs of consumers are met as they are increasingly following social distancing and are not stepping out of their homes, the spokesperson added..


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