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Odisha govt allows e-commerce ops but relief unlikely


Entering the second phase of the lockdown to fight the Covid-19 pandemic beginning April 15, the government of Odisha has relaxed its norms to allow home delivery of all goods through e-commerce or online platforms.

The order may have allowed delivery of any kind of product and services by online platforms such as Amazon, Flipkart and logistics companies, it’s not clear whether large e-commerce firms would open up their platform for just one, two, or a few states.

Due to the ongoing lockdown, e-commerce major Flipkart is currently accepting orders for essentials only while Amazon has been servicing select pin codes and only delivering grocery essentials.

According to the state government order, brick & mortar retailers of food and grocery items such as Big Bazaar, Reliance Fresh and Spencers also allowed to operate but only for online ordering. Experts believe it’s easy for offline chains to operate in any particular location.

However, an e-commerce supply-chain is different from offline retailers as a large chunk of their order volume passes through various states before getting delivered to the end consumer. We are not sure whether such an order will help e-commerce deliveries of all goods in any way.

One of the major problems for e-commerce platforms has been that different states have different guidelines on their operations. While Tamil Nadu recently banned food delivery platforms such as Zomato and Swiggy, Maharashtra had allowed their services.

On April 9, Odisha became the first state to extend the lockdown till April 30.

It’s not clear whether e-commerce majors like Flipkart, Amazon and other niche e-commerce companies would be able to ensure deliveries in just one or in few states only. At present, the three companies have been working on less than 20% of their peak capacity.

Meanwhile, Snapdeal has welcomed the decision by the Odisha’s govt.

“We are all geared up to resume deliveries of the products required by our customers,” Snapdeal spokesperson told Entrackr.

Our queries to Flipkart and Amazon on how they see the recent order of the Odisha government remain unanswered. We will update the post as and when they respond.

As of now, Odisha has reported 55 coronavirus positive cases. While 13 people have recovered and one has died. On March 24, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced a nationwide lockdown for 21 days to curb the spread of Covid-19 cases.

Update: The post is updated with Snapdeal response after the publication of the report.

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