E-comm firms and trade bodies respond to govt’s u-turn on non-essentials


The government’s decision to prohibit delivery of non-essential goods by e-commerce firms from April 20 has evoked some sharp responses from trader bodies and the e-commerce firms.

In its order of April 15, the Ministry of Home Affairs had relaxed the norms for e-commerce firms, allowing them to function fully and with many states issuing their notifications too. 

All e-commerce marketplaces, including Flipkart, Amazon and Snapdeal, were preparing for normal operations beginning tomorrow even though the lockdown was in place till May 3. However, the MHA order has now put them in a fix. 

Some have now expressed their disappointment with the u-turn in the central government’s decision as they were hours away from opening their platforms for orders.

Amazon India responded to the government’s decision by saying that the new guidelines will disappoint consumers, small businesses, and manufacturers. 

Kunal Bahl, CEO of Snapdeal, said, “there is a massive ecosystem of small businesses (manufacturers & traders) and ‘Make in India’ homegrown brands that the e-commerce industry enables”. The entire generation of India’s small business owners, entrepreneurs and their employees depend on e-commerce, he added

The company will continue to operate in complete compliance with the guidelines issued by the government in this regard, said a press release from Snapdeal.

Manu Kumar Jain, managing director of Xiaomi India, also said that the MHA order will affect the company’s decision to start shipping products from April 20.

Flipkart is yet to respond to the development.

But offline retailers, traders and trade bodies welcomed the government’s decision. They said that it will be an example of a level playing field. According to them, healthy competition should be there, and the decision is right.

“CAIT demolished a sinister plan of e-commerce companies to trade in non-essential commodities. Accepting the objection of CAIT, the MHA excluded the permission granted earlier and now e-commerce can only trade in essential commodities,” said Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) Secretary-General Praveen Khandelwal.

Union Minister Piyush Goyal also welcomed the decision of the government, emphasizing that it will create a level playing field for small retailers.

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