E-commerce companies such as Flipkart, Amazon and Snapdeal, as well as vertical etailers including Lenskart, Nykaa, and Firstcry, are expected to resume full operations from Monday after the central government removed all restrictions on online retail as part of its plan for Lockdown 4.0.
These platforms were so far restricted to selling non-essential goods like smartphones and electronics in government designated green and orange zones, while being allowed to sell essential items such as food and grocery nationally.
But in its latest guidelines, the Ministry of Home Affairs said that all activities, except those specifically prohibited, will be now be opened up. However, states would still take the final call on allowing businesses to function based on their local needs and situations, the guidelines added.
Online sales will continue to be restricted in containment zones across the country, where only essential activities will be permitted, as per the latest MHA directives.
“We are ready and equipped to now start serving customers all across India – in red, green and orange zones – by providing them access to the entire selection of millions of products,” said a Snapdeal spokesperson. “This is also the moment that will enable lakhs of medium and small online sellers to start rebuilding their businesses as they serve the needs of users in cities and towns across India.”
Read: Non-essentials sales curb could pinch ecomm firms hard
Cab-hailing services Uber and Ola are also not in the current list of prohibited activities as per the new guidelines releases on Sunday evening. Both ride-hailing apps have been shut for the last two months, barring some essential travel activities which constitute less than 2-3% of their overall business as usual numbers, according to analysts.
The move to reopen e-commerce will deliver a major boost to companies that were allowed to sell only essential goods since the lockdown was announced on March 24. Even the opening up for non-essential sales had seen low demand from areas outside of red zones.
ET had reported that Flipkart and Amazon had been able to recover only 20% of their sales a week after the May 4 order that allowed them to resume business in green and orange zones.
“We don’t expect states to restrict e-commerce activity in any way and we should start accepting orders from tomorrow (Monday),” said a senior executive of a leading e-commerce marketplace on thr condition of anonymity. “Moreover, offline stores are open in most locations, so it shouldn’t be a problem for us (e-commerce) as well.”
Read: E-commerce marketplaces see low demand for non-essentials