The offline retailers are also complaining that their supply chain has been disrupted following stricter implementation of the prohibitory Section 144 orders by the various state governments. Possibly, the worst cities in this regard are Mumbai and Delhi, two key markets for the e-commerce companies. Amazon has already suspended some of its services like Easy Ship, Seller Flex and Fulfilled by Amazon. Flipkart and Snapdeal have also expressed issues of similar nature where the orders from customers are pending but deliveries are getting impacted, as per a report in the Economic Times.
A total of around 25,000 to 30,000 outlets categorised as supermarkets have been asked to down their shutters. These include the ones operated by Big Bazaar, Reliance Fresh etc. Many warehouses of the firms have also been impacted. Now the Retailers Association of India (RAI), which represents the modern trade business, has written to the state governments to address this issue.
Perhaps, the only solution will be for the e-commerce firms to seek a meeting with the top police and administration officials in each state and work out a better solution. In a war-like scenario, many desperate measures may have to be taken. There are already talks of issuing curfew passes. Something like that may have to be worked out, if the lockdown continues and people can’t get out of their homes.
The other issue being encountered is the sudden drop in the number of personnel reporting for work. Employees also fear for their lives and many may be coming under pressure from their family members not to go out for work.
E-commerce firms definitely look at deliveries being delayed. The other issue is these firms can be delivering essential as well as non-essential goods to their customers. Though governments are willing to exempt the essential items, in practice it is very difficult for the police on the roads to implement this.
The offline retailers are facing difficulties of a different kind, though not very unrelated. The grocery and food selling shops have been allowed to remain open besides pharmacies etc. Now the retail outlets depend on the distributors to deliver the products to them. This supply line is getting disrupted for the same reasons, that the local implementation authorities are not allowing them to open their stock points and make deliveries. The staff shortage is affecting them as well.