One of the biggest reasons for this is people have, arguably, done panic buying in the past few hours and days, which has put shopping websites and their delivery partners under tremendous weight to deliver the order while supplies may be restricted.
If you are thinking of doing some online shopping or waiting for a courier package for an order you placed a few days ago, we would urge you to not hold your breath. As the India lockdown kicks in today because of the Coronavirus pandemic, online stores are still not sure about how to procure supplies, how to deliver them to your home and what the specific guidelines for those processes are. As of now, Flipkart and Grofers, for instance, are unavailable for business. They aren’t the only ones. While Amazon is still offering what it claims are essential items, chances are you won’t get them either.
There are multiple reasons why this is happening with the online shopping stores. First, India is in a first of its kind lockdown which means that more than 1.3 billion people have to stay indoors for the next 21 days, as announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi late yesterday. Secondly, there is no clarity on exactly what comprises “essential services” that the government insists are exempt—expect some clarity in the coming days. Third, online and offline stores aren’t exactly sure how the supplies for essentials would come in. And last but not least, the delivery executives for companies delivering these essential services will need to have clarity on whether their movement is allowed or not. And one of the biggest reasons for this is people have, arguably, done panic buying in the past few hours and days, which has put shopping websites and their delivery partners under tremendous weight to deliver the order while supplies may be restricted.
Let us look at some specific moves by shopping websites this morning, the day 1 of the India lockdown to flatten the curve and curb the spread of the Coronavirus in the country.
Flipkart is completely closed for business. They say services have been temporarily suspended while promising to be back and urging everyone to stay home and stay safe. The company makes no promises on the timeline though, at this time.
Flipkart’s move came after rival Amazon said that it was halting the sales of all non-essential items on its platform so that the present infrastructure can be used for processing orders which include essential items. “To serve our customers’ most urgent needs while also ensuring safety of our employees, we are temporarily prioritizing our available fulfilment and logistics capacity to serve products that are currently critical for our customers such as Household Staples, Packaged Food, Health Care, Hygiene, Personal safety and other high priority products. This also means that we have to temporarily stop taking orders and disable shipments for lower-priority products,” Amazon says in an official statement. Basically, you cannot splurge on a new smartphone or a TV or some such non-essential item at this time—Amazon simply will not be able to fulfill it as the country is in lockdown mode.
However, yours truly did end up having two separate orders of essential items (vegetables and groceries) placed on Monday, March 23, cancelled this morning—around the expected time of delivery. These would usually classify as essential items in most definitions, but we still don’t have clarity on why the order was cancelled—whether the items were out of stock, whether the delivery partner was unable to fulfill the order or Amazon simply didn’t want to take any chances by having its delivery team outdoors at this time. All of which are understandable reasons.