The issuance of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) guidelines on April 15 has raised concerns among the national IT traders’ body. The guidelines have allowed e-commerce companies, under clause 13(i), to operate with the online delivery model only for essential items. However, it is observed by the trade and industry that e-tailers have started gearing up themselves for April 21 onwards to start delivery of all types of goods, including IT and communication equipment like laptops, desktops, mobiles and other accessories.
National IT body FAIITA has written an appeal letter to the PMO for not allowing e-commerce companies to start the sale and delivery of IT and related products from April 21 as this move is likely to hit the several thousand IT retailers and brick and mortar shops across India. The association fears, the opening of e-commerce services beyond essential items will create imbalance in the level playing field and will also raise many conflicts.
Speaking to CRN India, Navin Gupta, Secretary, FAIITA said, “Already, all the businesses are on standstill and stressed under the lockdown and now with the further extension of lockdown till May 03, our members are facing cash flow challenge to run their businesses. Even more, our smaller town partners, who are carrying stocks with them, will not be able to deliver the goods to the much-needed customers due to the lockdown. On the other hand, the e-tailers or online shops will be in a position to deliver the non-essential goods under the shadow of an opening provided to them by the government only for essential items for the needy citizens of India under lockdown.”
Gupta commented, “E-tailers and online shops are otherwise also online marketplaces, where the supply is to made by the local vendors who have participated in these marketplaces. If these local vendors are not allowed to operate, how will the supply be made to e-tailers and online shops.”
FAIITA has urged the government to take immediate intervening action on the same and amend the guidelines, allowing e-tailers or online shops deliver only essential goods during the lockdown period. Further, it has requested to amend the guidelines that local vendors operating from Orange and Green zones shall be allowed to carry out business through online platforms.
Meanwhile, Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) held a video conference of about 70 trade leaders from all parts of India and asked the government to prohibit e-commerce companies from delivering non essentials throughout the lockdown period.