Saturday was the fourth day of the 21-day lockdown announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to contain the spread of novel coronavirus infection.
Despite e-commerce and online retail or delivery platforms trying to iron out the creases in the supply and delivery of essential services, some lockdown-related hiccups persist.
Amazon India, Flipkart, Nature's Basket and Bigbasket continue to cite delivery issues with notes to customers across Mumbai region, saying operations will resume shortly. Most warehouses are concentrated around the Bhiwandi region, in Thane district, which supply to the Mumbai region.
Amazon India, in a tweet, said it resumed operations in Bengaluru and Pune on Saturday.
BigBasket said it has restarted operations across all its cities, including Bengaluru, Mumbai, Delhi, Noida-Ghaziabad, Gurugram, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Kolkata, Lucknow, Nagpur, Patna, Vijayawada, Chandigarh and was working towards resuming operations in Kochi.
"We are creating a focused programme to bring back our on-field workforce including delivery executives, pickers and packers. We are hoping to resolve this very soon. There has been exceptionally high demand over the last few days creating a huge backlog of orders and the company's first priority is those who have already paid and are waiting for their orders. They are also investing in additional servers and back end infrastructure as the huge surge in app and website traffic is causing our site/app to slow down," Bigbasket tweeted.
Ankit Tomar, co-founder and CTO of Bizongo, that supplies packaging to ecommerce platforms and has large operations across Mumbai, said it was facing issues in maintaining supplychain due to the lockdown. There is a also a communication gap at the local level where authorities are not letting businesses operate warehouses, it said.
"The lockdown has also affected our manufacturing partners though the latest notification by the Ministry of Home Affairs has mentioned packaging as an essential product. We are in talks with the local authorities across cities for curfew passes that will allow us to provide packaging to our clients who are supplying essential products like food, dairy, medicines etc to the people," Tomar said.
Grofers said while it has resumed operations in many cities across north, west and south India, permissions are on their way and operations will start soon in Kolkata, Pune, Hyderabad, Chennai, Kanpur, Sonipat, Rohtak, Meerut, Bhiwadi.
Puneet Kumar, founder & CEO, Supr Daily, an online contactless essential delivery platform that has over the past couple of days managed to restart services across many regions noted that there has to separate provisions for transporting perishables like milk.
"...In many places petrol pumps are shut, how are the delivery associates supposed to get around to service the demand? The governments have given clear instructions but obviously the implementation has run into issues because nobody has done this before. Officials are being cooperative about figuring out the solutions though. But since we are primarily dealing with milk the longer it takes to be sorted, the chances of wastage increase," Kumar said. "We aim to deliver milk to the majority of our customers in Mumbai & service most areas tomorrow (29 March). We shall also attempt delivery of some essential groceries in a few areas.’’
A Walmart India spokesperson on Saturday said that the two main immediate priorities were ensuring smooth supply of essential items to members and the safety of its store associates and members.
“...As part of these safety measures, we have closed our call centre and brought down the number of associates working at our ‘Best Price’ stores to ensure social distancing, according to directives from local authorities. We have also updated our website with store-specific numbers so that members can directly call the store and get information on their orders. We have informed members who purchase from our wholesale platform that their order delivery may get delayed due to the lockdown and also as we have fewer associates to manage our stores," the Walmart India spokesperson said.
Kuldeep Pandit, co-founder and CEO, Home Jiny, said, "We are thankful to the government and police authorities for helping us in resuming our services in these testing times. We are still facing issues in manpower availability and supply side. However, we have restarted our operations with alternate day deliveries to ensure that lives in homes which are dependent on us for their daily essentials are not disrupted beyond a point. As soon as more manpower and supplies are available, we will resume everyday delivery to the customers."
Suneera Tandon and Biman Mukherji contributed to the story