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  • Writer's pictureSahastha

Ecommerce in the time of Covid-19

Updated: Oct 4, 2023

Ecommerce is witnessing a cautious uptick in demand due to increased number of Covid-19 cases but the sector is being dragged down by regional lockdowns that constrict mobility, according to industry executives. In markets where the state governments have announced strict restrictions, consumers are once again increasing the sizes of their online baskets with product such as packaged foods, hygiene products, cleaners, disinfectants, and vegetable washes.

In states like Maharashtra, Gujarat, and Delhi-NCR, which have been hit hard by the new wave of Covid-19 cases, online companies are recording an increase in demand. Amazon India indicated that while current demand for ecommerce wasn’t comparable to the peak seen during the lockdown last year, the company has been registering steady quarter on quarter growth.  Online grocer Grofers said that it has seen a 30% spike in weekly demand in some markets.

Ecommerce firms are battling a maze of conflicting regulations as state government announced a series of measures to stem the rapid rise in Covid-19 cases. In Maharashtra, only essential goods can be delivered in the state until 1 May, while Haryana has permitted ecommerce supply of only essential items during the night curfew hours. Representatives from top firms including Flipkart, Amazon, Snapdeal, Urban company, Paytm, as well large conglomerates like Reliance Industries Ltd and the Tata Group were joined by Ecommerce majors like Bigbasket, Grofers, Swiggy, 1MG, Zomato, Pharmeasy and Udaan at the meeting with officials from the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPI-IT). They requested the centre to intervene and prevent the states from curbing the ecommerce platforms, according to multiple people present.

Rising Covid cases in cities like Mumbai, Pune, and Delhi have added up the demands as people are once again wary of going out and doing shopping. Fresh wave of Covid has forced several states to impose fresh restrictions. Flipkart, BigBasket, Swiggy, Delhivery confirmed their plans to ramp up their frontline workforce amid a growing demand for online delivery across the country.

Multiple Covid restrictions imposed by different state governments have started to impact both ecommerce and manufacturing operations in several states during the second wave. Ecommerce platforms like Flipkart, Amazon, and BigBasket are having delay deliveries due to supply chain issuers with some states or districts allowing only essentials. Restrictions and labour shortages, which had thus far been restricted to Maharashtra, have started affecting manufacturing plants in other states as well. The impact is mostly on small and medium sized companies with production down to 20-30%.

Consumer goods makers are pushing their products aggressively on ecommerce platform. They are looking out for initiatives to battle falling footfalls in stores across the worst affected cities and town.  This will lead to the second boost to ecommerce in the country after last year. Parle products is gearing up for 50% surge in orders from ecommerce platform, while companies like LG, Samsung, Siemens and Bosch are moving stocks for online sales and enabling their stores to sell online. ITC has beefed up its own ecommerce venture besides increasing supplies to other channels.

We are, all of us, currently living in flux.

The customers are trying their best to adapt to strange times without a lot of footholds and shifting their behavior as a result. Ecommerce are facing much of the same uncertainty, while trying to support the customers’ needs in the best possible way.

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