E-tailers support Centre's move, but expect relaxations

New Delhi (IANS) As the government on Sunday said that e-commerce platforms will be able to sell only essential goods, e-commerce majors have expressed their support to the decision, but have also said that they hope for relaxations to benefit both the customers and the sellers.

The Centre on Sunday said that it would allow e-commerce companies and the vehicles used by operators of these units to supply only essential goods subject to "necessary permission" during the lockdown and the supply of non-essential goods by e-commerce companies will remain prohibited during the 19-day lockdown ending May 3.

The market players have however, expressed their resentment against the decision and e-commerce players and their sellers had been preparing to resume services starting April 20.

An Amazon India spokesperson said the company appreciates the vision of the government, but also noted that the decision would disappoint the consumers and several small businesses and sellers.

"We appreciate and are fully committed to the vision of the government to keep the citizens healthy. The need of the hour is to ensure the safety of our citizens first, serving their needs while they stay at home," said the spokesperson.

"The new guideline will disappoint not only the consumers whose list of essentials had expanded to work from home and study from home products but also the thousands of small businesses, sellers and manufacturers across the country, who had geared up in the last 48 hours to provide millions of people with safe access to products."

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The Amazon India spokesperson further said that on behalf of consumers and sellers, the company hopes that this situation is rectified soon so that the urgent need of consumers is met and that there is revival of economic activity.

The company added that it will continue to follow the guidance and deliver essential products and work closely with all central, state and local authorities for expedited processes to make safe deliveries of priority products possible.

Srinivas Mothey, Senior Vice President, Paytm Mall also said that the ambit of essential goods should be increased.

Noting that safety of fellow Indians is of utmost importance to us and the company supports the government's decision in spirit to limiting e-commerce operations to essentials, Mothey said: "However, we believe that the ambit of essential goods should be increased. India is mostly working from home at the moment but many are finding it difficult as they are running low on certain items necessary to effectively operate under lockdown."

Laptops, mobile phones and accessories, computer hardware and webcams should be allowed to be part of essential goods, he said, adding that if the lockdown continues, lack of proper technical support would hinder the efficiency of employees which in turn would affect a company's operations.

A Snapdeal spokesperson said: "We will continue to operate in complete compliance with the guidelines issued by the government."

The Retailers Association of India (RAI) also said on Sunday that the rules for home delivery of products should be broad-based and all types of retailers, including neighbourhood stores, should be allowed to operate.

"We believe that to fulfil consumer needs in these trying times, rules for direct customer delivery need to be broad-based and all types of retailers including neighbourhood stores should be allowed to operate," RAI said in a statement.

However, the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) which has been urging the government to limit the operations of e-commerce platforms to essential goods during the lockdown period in the interest of small traders has applauded the decision and said termed the move as pragmatic".

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