Flipkart is switched off and Amazon restricts orders in India during coronavirus lock

Flipkart is switched off and Amazon restricts orders in India during coronavirus lock
Written by David
Flipkart, owned by Walmart (WMT), announced Wednesday that it has suspended services by government demanded a “complete” lockdown for the entire population of 1.3 billion people, and orders most stores, offices and factories to shut down.
“We urge you to stay home to be safe,” Flipkart said in one statement. “Our promise is that we will come back to serve you as soon as possible.”
People around the world have relied more on online shopping in an effort to limit physical contact as the virus spreads. Amazon (AMZN) has revealed plans for rent 100,000 distribution workers in the United States, while the Chinese company (JD) has promised to open more than 20,000 new positions.

Amazon, Flipkart’s biggest rival in India, moved on Tuesday to restrict orders as it responded to increased demand due to the coronavirus outbreak.

It was said in one blogs that it would “temporarily stop taking orders” for some items because workers focus on filling orders for “critical” goods, such as household goods, packaged foods and hygiene products.
“To meet the urgent needs of our customers and at the same time ensure the safety of our employees, we prioritize (with immediate effect) all of our resources to serve products that are currently a high priority,” said Amazon CEO Amit Agarwal in a statement.

Customers who have already placed orders for products that do not meet the criteria will be contacted and offered a refund, the company added.

The Indian government has stipulated that only services that are considered “necessary” for public life should be kept up.

It includes the delivery of food, pharmaceuticals and medical equipment provided by e-commerce companies. But some companies suggest confusion on the ground.

For example, Flipkart did not say why it stopped business when it seemed like an e-commerce company was exempt from the restrictions.

Flipkart employees who worked at the company's headquarters in Bengaluru 2017.

The company is reviewing “the opportunities to work in lockdown,” says Business Director Rajneesh Kumar to CNN Business.

“We prioritize the security of our suppliers and seek support from the local and police authorities to meet the needs of our customers,” he said in a statement without elaborating further.

Amazon told CNN Business that it was “working with the central government and local authorities and asked them to help us quickly with detailed operational procedures on the ground.”

Mixed messages

Zomato, a popular food delivery startup, said its delivery workers were “facing several obstacles across the cities while trying to deliver food.”

It pointed out that its work had been classified as an important service, but said “coordination with several local authorities is … challenging.”

“The government has provided strong guidance that we follow and try to do our best to execute on the ground,” a company spokesman told CNN Business. “We are communicating with the relevant authorities and hope these issues will be sorted out soon.”

At least some confusion seems to be due to stock closing. Online Stores Grofers said On Twitter on Tuesday, its warehouse in the northern city of Faridabad had been shut down by local law enforcement and it faces “operational challenges due to lack of clarity in our list as a major service provider.”

K K Rao, Faridabad Police Commissioner, told CNN Business that while they do not stop e-commerce services, they inform factory workers about social distance requirements. He said it meant that some factories “were temporarily shut down by police to inform employees.”

– Esha Mitra contributed to this report.

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