As several states brought out guidelines allowing ecommerce companies to deliver all goods and not just essential items from April 20, companies are now preparing to ramp up operations. These companies are hiring thousands of warehouse and delivery staff.
States such as Maharashtra, Odisha, Tamil Nadu and Rajasthan have clarified that ecommerce companies will be able to move all goods starting April 20, in keeping with the home ministry guidelines issued on Wednesday.
However, despite the guidelines, ecommerce companies are wary of challenges on the ground.
Many in the sector, including Amazon India, had sought clarifications on whether the MHA circular allowed non-essential items as well, and government officials told CNBC-TV18 that deliveries of all goods will be permitted.
However, the guidelines also specified that all exemptions have to be operationalised by states or district administrations, which has led to another problem for ecommerce companies - the wait for more states to open up.
“We are a national company and can't start delivering non-essentials in only a few states. We are right now waiting to see which states are allowing ecommerce from April 20 and whether they are adjacent to each other so we can run operations smoothly,” said an ecommerce company executive on condition of anonymity.
Some, such as FLipkart, however, said they are prepared to start taking orders for all products from April 18-19, which can then be fulfilled after April 20, according to a company source.
Another challenge for ecommerce companies as they look to scale operations is the shortage of labour, with much of their warehouse and delivery staff having migrated back to their towns during the lockdown.
Companies have had to aggressively hire staff from existing labour and migrant workers across the cities to expand capacity to fulfil orders.
Flipkart has hired nearly 4,000 workers in last couple of weeks, Amazon India is also recruiting thousands off staff, according to industry sources.
Amazon India Spokesperson said: "We are working closely with all our partners - brands, manufacturers, sellers, small businesses and local shops - helping them to offer the most needed products to customers. While we will increase selection that customers can safely shop from their homes, we will also continue to ensure safety of our delivery associates and our teams at our facilities.”
Given that these ecommerce platforms are online marketplaces, they need sellers to restart operations as well. Sellers body All India Online Vendors Association said they had received different communication from different platforms on whether they need to start operations from April 20, and said it was looking to get more clarity.
Flipkart, in a statement, said it was working with sellers to help them resume operations in the next few days.
First Published: IST