E-Commerce Sales Still Restricted While Offline Shops get a Govt Nod

E-Commerce sale of goods apart from staple food and body care items remains restricted. The central government  has allowed the sale of what  is being termed as “non-essential” goods in small shops and standalone shops, though the big stores and malls are still closed.   The traders associations of the  IT products retailers had been asking the government to allow them to sell their IT hardware as the demand for  these had grown. Earlier, they had argued that their sale on E-commerce platforms gives the offline retailers a disadvantage and hence, the E-commerce platforms should not be allowed to sell IT hardware and other electronic goods. Following this, the government had reversed its permission to sell these goods online.

“Through our safe and sanitized supply chain, we’re only selling Grocery/Essentials which have been allowed by Govt guidelines. We’re also following our robust supply chain SOPs to ensure safe deliveries to customers at their doorsteps and helping enforce social distancing to contain this outbreak.”

–Flipkart Spokesperson

Now, the Central government has allowed the sale of non-essentials in offline standalone shops not in a market area. However, the E-commerce platforms are still restrained from selling anything other than staple food and cleansing agents. This has upset the E-commerce platform  businesses as they feel that this order has given an advantage to the offline retailers over them.

Delhi government has been a party to this decision by the MHA. After deliberation for hours, Delhi government has approved the MHA decision.

Although showing a desire to abide by the rule of the government,  the business leaders involved in sale on E-commerce platforms are disappointed at this order. Initially it caused some confusion as some thought that online sale of non-essentials was also allowed. However, the  MHA issued a notice clarifying that the online platforms were to sell only essential products. It is being said that this order gives a disadvantage to the E-commerce platforms.

Some E-commerce platforms have begun to book orders, but the delivery date is in May end or later. Further, industry bodies like FICCI and others have been asking the government to include  laptops, refrigerator, electric products, mobiles etc in the allowed items, as their demand is high and in these times, they are essential for the normal functioning of the workforce and homes. Besides, online sale will allow the E-commerce platforms to retain their employees during lockdown.

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