As the country looks to open up several activities starting May 18, barring in containment zones. Huge relief for e-commerce firms, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has allowed delivery of non-essential products in red zones as well. The relaxation is part of the new guidelines issued by the ministry for Lockdown 4.0 on Sunday.
Essential activities have also been allowed in containment zones.
After nearly two months of staggered operations, beginning with the first lockdown on 25 March, e-commerce firms may finally resume full operations with the government lifting most of the restrictions for online delivery firms.
The coronavirus pandemic will accelerate the growth of India’s e-commerce market, pushing it to ₹7 trillion by 2023, according to GlobalData, a London-based data analytics firm.
Until the third lockdown, e-commerce firms could only deliver essentials such as groceries, which is a small part of the business of most large e-commerce firms such as Amazon and Flipkart. From 4 May, they were only allowed to deliver non-essentials products in orange and green zones. However, most of the major cities were under red zones and therefore remained out of bounds for non-essential deliveries.
“This move will help us deliver to most of the metro cities which presently fall in the red zones. We have received a sizeable number of consumer electronics wishlist orders from metro cities where people have been waiting to buy laptops, mobile phones, as well as other daily use items for the last several weeks now. The government’s decision will also help in opening up supplies of consumer electronics from warehouses which are in the red zones,” said Srinivas Mothey, senior vice president, Paytm Mall.
“We welcome the guidelines announced by the MHA, which pave the way for a broader resumption of economic activities across most parts of India. At Snapdeal, we are ready and equipped to now start serving customers all across India – in red, green and orange zones – by providing them access to the entire selection of millions of products,” said a Snapdeal spokesperson.
India, in a lockdown since 25 March, has seen easing of restrictions in each successive phase. As a result, e-commerce companies can now deliver non-essentials products barring the so-called Red Zones.
Sharma said, “The covid-19 outbreak will have greater implications on Indian consumers’ buying behaviour pushing them to embrace e-commerce. The market is anticipated to continue its growth exceeding the previous forecast levels to reach $98.4 billion in next four years.”
Propelled by rising smartphone penetration, the launch of 4G networks and increasing consumer wealth, the Indian e-commerce market is expected to grow to $200 billion by 2026 from $38.5 billion in 2017, according to Indian Brand Equity Foundation (IBEF).
The growth is primarily being led by Flipkart and Amazon India.
In 2019, smartphone shipments in India rose 8% year-on-year to 152.5 million units, making it the fastest growing market among the top 20 in the world.
Of late, the competition in the digital payments space–the most critical element of e-commerce market–and the race among retailers to tie-up with neighbourhood stores has also intensified.