Moneycontrol PRO
Upcoming Webinar:Watch a panel of experts discuss: Challenges of continuously evolving regulation for Cryptocurrency, on 7th July at 3pm. Register Now
you are here: HomeNewsEconomyPolicy

Coronavirus impact | E-commerce firms staring at bleak sales in post-lockdown period too

Largely what e-commerce platforms sell is discretionary expenditure like electronics, fashion and general merchandise.

April 21, 2020 / 07:00 PM IST

In a sudden U-turn from its April 15 guidelines, allowing e-commerce companies to operate, the government has put a spanner in their plans by restricting e-commerce companies to trade only in essential goods and groceries.

In a notification on April 15, the government had put out a list of sectors that would be able to resume operations partially from April 20, provided it maintained social distancing norms. The list included e-commerce companies like Amazon, Flipkart and others.

However, a day before they were supposed to resume operations, another notification from the government disallowed e-commerce from trading in anything but essentials.

"This will create a level-playing field for small retailers," Commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal  said after the home ministry came out with the notification.

Track this blog for latest updates on the coronavirus outbreak


COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

View more
How does a vaccine work?

A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

How many types of vaccines are there?

There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

View more

The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) had written a series of letters  to Goyal and Home Minister Amit Shah seeking intervention on states’ decision of allowing online retailers to sell non-essential items.

After the government announcement, CAIT Secretary General Praveen Khandelwal tweeted: "Seven crore traders of India express gratitude to PM Narendra Modi, Amit Shah, Rajnath Singh, PiyushGoyal and Hardeep Singh Puri for notification prohibiting E commerce to trade in non essential Commodities."

"In the current definition of what is essential and non-essential, about 93 percent of e commerce sale in India is non-essential," said Ankur Bisen. Senior Vice-President, retail and consumer products, Technopak.

Largely what e-commerce platforms sell is discretionary expenditure like electronics, fashion and general merchandise. "This means a loss of sale period of a month in this year (financial year) and a month in the next," he said.

Because of a general environment of economic slowdown, pay cuts and job losses, consumer sentiment is almost absent. A lifting of lockdown will not immediately revive it, till the economy doesn't pick up steam.

"So we will see consumers extinguishing desires for a foreseeable future.  So e-commerce will have a significant impact. There will be a contraction in the overall sales number of e-commerce in FY21 compared to FY20," Bisen said.

Follow our full coverage of the coronavirus outbreak here
Kamalika Ghosh
first published: Apr 21, 2020 06:59 pm
ISO 27001 - BSI Assurance Mark