Flipkart’s delivery services have been temporarily suspended in India starting today as the nation embraces a 21-day long nationwide lockdown amid the relentless onslaught of the Covid-19 pandemic.
India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, took the call yesterday to enforce social distancing and lockdown protocols across the nation for 21 days to prevent further spread of the novel Coronavirus.
The country’s businesses and delivery operations have taken a massive hit even as several online services like BigBasket are temporarily shutdown to help curb the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.
BigBasket Suspends Delivery Operations Amid Nationwide Lockdown
The BigBasket homepage currently runs the following message:
“We’ll be back soon! We are currently experiencing unprecedented demand. In light of this, we are restricting access to our website to existing customers only. Please try again in a few hours.”
Meanwhile, Walmart-owned Flipkart has put up a public message on its home page suggesting that its delivery services will be temporarily suspended to adhere to the nationwide-lockdown protocols.
Flipkart Temporarily Closes Delivery Services
The leading e-commerce portal has not revealed as to when its operations will resume:
“We are temporarily suspending our services. Your needs have always been our priority, and our promise is that we will be back to serve you, as soon as possible.”
The company has put up “out of stock” labels across all its product listings while still enabling bill payment and video streaming services that don’t need the deployment of any delivery personnel.
In contrast, Amazon has limited its delivery services to essential goods including packaged goods and household staples.
Local authorities are reportedly closing down warehouses and stopping trucks from transporting goods across the state borders. Furthermore, the shortage of delivery personnel has made it cumbersome to fulfill orders amid the pandemic.
The Hindu reports that the delivery personnel is not provided any safety gear or equipment to protect them from the risk of rapidly-spreading the Covid-19 pandemic across the nation. The delivery team is just receiving basic insurance coverage in case of the novel Coronavirus infection.
It is imperative for the government to provide alternate door-delivery services to ensure safe and reliable access to medicines, groceries and other essentials as the nation grips with uncertainty and fear over the deadly respiratory illness.
Grofers makes its move
“Our @Grofers warehouse in Faridabad was closed by local law enforcement today. While we understand they are doing their duty, essential items will be denied to 20,000+ households in Faridabad and Delhi every day. We need help in sorting this out. @Mcf_Faridabad @ArvindKejriwal,” Grofers founder Albinder Dhindsa tweeted after demand surged.
Grofers which delivers groceries in 17 cities has a backlog of over 2 lakh orders in the region alone.
“We were prepared for the disruption on March 22, but rules are changing everyday and the local authorities are not on the same page,” says Dhindsa.
Dhindsa of Grofers says that barring products such as handwash and sanitisers which are out of stock, it has enough supplies of essentials and groceries.
“The big issue is the lockdown and lack of clarity of rules because of which we are unable to deliver. However, things are getting better now and our priority is to clear the backlog. Grofers at the moment is taking only 50% to 60% of its order capacity. We plan to deliver 24/7 to clear the backlog. We are partnering with the local administration to ensure that the consumers get their deliveries at the earliest,” he further adds,” said Albinder Dhindsa.
Commenting on the nationwide lockdown, Emkay research said by and large, the Indian govt has acted earlier than other govts (with respect to stage of case count of the disease) in terms of travel restrictions and lock downs.
“At a time when many western govts have been dilly-dallying on a full lockdown (weighing trade-off between healthcare benefits and economic costs of such lockdowns), The India govt’s stance is clear and unambiguous – better prevent a blow-up of the disease than risk overwhelming the weak healthcare infra. The preparatory phase of a Sunday lockdown, and various state govts extending restrictions have given decent prep time for the population. This increases the likelihood of the effectiveness the 21 day lockdown starting 25th March 12AM – a long enough period from the point of view of the spread of the virus,” states Emkay officials.
Consumer goods companies like HUL, ITC and Godrej have decided to ramp up production of essential products, there surely is a gap in the supply chain, as shop shelves are falling empty. VLCC already began producing hand sanitiser also. Few other companies have also decided to reduce their product price.
Commenting on her experience, housewife Anu from Bengaluru said there is a widespread panic on the availability of products, especially via online.
“I felt BigBasket website was not responding properly yesterday. When I searched online few products were not available, like Maggi Noodles and even Ashirwaad atta. I don’t know how long the manufacturers are able to supply products on time,” said Anu from Bengaluru.