The Karnataka Government has straight-up made a U-turn on its earlier decision to allow e-commerce players to operate amid the lockdown!
On Sunday, the Karnataka Government barred e-commerce platforms from shipping non-essential goods, which then went on to disrupt deliveries to customers in Bengaluru on Monday!
In a few areas of the Bangalore, police officers interpreted that the revised notification meant only delivery of food and grocery items would be allowed, and this led to many delivery personnel being reprimanded!
On May 7th, P Ravi Kumar, Chief Secretary, had permitted the delivery of all items via e-commerce and home delivery. But, now it is unclear what led to the revised notification that was released on Sunday.
The sudden change of heart has led to ambiguities and confusion among the customers,. Many customers were surprised to find that they cant buy products, other than essential items, anymore from Amazon or Flipkart.
According to Karnataka Government officials, they were unaware of this change that came into effect hours before the lockdown started on Monday morning.
Sources have released that BS Yediyurappa, Chief Minister of Karnataka, had received calls from various senior leaders in Delhi who warned him of the rapid rise in the state’s caseload and thus asked him to tighten the restrictions.
Now, the bigwigs of the e-commerce industry, especially Flipkart and Amazon, are lobbying against this decision by stating that the distinction between essential and non-essential items is subjective and that labelling of products often leads to issues on the ground. Policemen have different definitions of what actually constitutes ‘essential’ and ‘non-essential’.
In a statement about the same, an Amazon spokesperson said that the company is currently following the revised State guidelines and enables the delivery of only essential products within Karnataka.
But that being said, the spokesperson mentioned that they have learnt from their customers that urgent needs vary across different households and individuals, and it is very challenging to define a concrete list of items in the ‘essentials category, especially during a pandemic.
As per Amazon India, allowing home delivery of products irrespective of what category they belong to will allow customers’ needs to be fulfilled in the best way during the lockdown.
All the major e-com players, including Flipkart, Amazon and Reliance Digital, were accepting orders for goods such as laptops, routers, small electronics, apparel, accessories, etc., until Monday evening. They had, however, stopped taking orders for watches, footwear, smartphones and a few other key categories.
At a time when there is no clarity when it comes to what is essential and what isn’t, e-commerce players are likely to test the waters and observe what can be shipped and if deliveries are being stopped, as per a senior e-commerce executive.
Furthermore, he also mentioned that although companies do not want their delivery partners to get beaten up or be subjected to worse, consumers seem to be ordering what is required. And they cannot understand why governments are blocking e-commerce players from selling all items as per the original directive.
Karnataka has become the latest addition to the states that have restricted the e-commerce sector from operating in light of the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Last month, Maharashtra and Delhi had also announced such restrictions. We will keep you updated on all future developments. Until then, stay tuned.