In revised guidelines, the Ministry of Home Affairs or MHA has allowed e-commerce platforms to deliver all products, including non-essential items in orange and green zones from May 4 while restricting e-commerce activities in red zones to essential goods only.
However, with most of India working from home and there are online classes going on for children, they have started expressing their concern about the inability to purchase the necessary items beyond the essentials such as stationery, printer cartridges, batteries, and books.
According to a survey conducted by social media platform LocalCircles, 78% of the respondents agreed when asked if the government should permit e-commerce platforms to sell and deliver all the goods, rather than only essential supplies in the red zones too, once the second lockdown ends on May 3.
Around 18% voted against the allowance of non-essentials in red zones, while 4% did not have any opinion on it. The survey results are based on responses from more than 16,000 consumers from 201 Indian districts.
Furthermore, the platform also asked consumers how they are going to purchase the items beyond the essential items once the lockdown gets relaxed in May. In response, 41% choose an option of local retailers, 26% said they will prefer to make a purchase through e-commerce platforms. Whereas only 4% said to go to the mall and buy, added the report.
According to mid-April survey findings, around 68% of parents raised the concern that their children need textbooks for online school classes to be effective while 24% stated that they need to purchase a desktop or laptop for their child to access those classes. Around 43% of households are in urgent need of office or school supplies while 33% need a gadget immediately, the survey revealed.
Even though the government took action and permitted shops selling books and fans to open up with a notification dated April 24 by calling both these items essentials, most districts marked as red zones did not have these shops open. This has led to several consumers not being able to meet their urgent non-essential goods demand, which some stated as secondary to essentials in the report.
Per consumers, allowing e-commerce to be fully operational by delivering secondary essentials as well will ensure a minimum number of people on roads. The respondents further added that local retailers and traders must be permitted to take orders on the phone and WhatsApp and deliver them to ease the current situation.
One of the major reasons that these respondents have been emphasizing on the allowance of e-commerce sectors is that online platforms have fared better in this regard is by complying with the government’s orders of displaying exact MRP of all the products on their website during the pandemic. Offline stores, on the other hand, are charging higher than the MRP of packaged products.
According to another recent report by LocalCircles, 39% of consumers had agreed that they were being overcharged by an offline retail store in the last four weeks.