COVID-19 lockdown impact: 35% consumers could not get most of the essential goods via ecommerce apps
- • 17% consumers could not find most essentials in retail stores
March 24, 2020, New Delhi: Many states and cities in India have currently been put under a lockdown in an attempt to break the Coronavirus infection chain. Offices, malls, markets, cinemas, gyms, swimming pools, etc. have all been shut down to minimise the transmission. Amidst of all this, citizens have been trying to stock up their homes with essentials and have been trying to buy products from both retail stores, as well as many have been using ecommerce apps and sites to order them. Many consumers have reported on LocalCircles that they are facing difficulties in procuring essentials as many items are either stocked out or the deliveries are not reaching them.
LocalCircles conducted a 2-poll survey to get a citizen pulse on how has been their experience in the last 3 days while trying to buy essential goods from retail stores as well as from ecommerce apps. The survey received more than 15,000 responses from consumers.
The first question asked citizens when they tried to purchase essential goods (wheat, rice, pulses, salt, sugar, etc) from an eCommerce app during the last 3 days. what was your experience. 36% said they were able to get everything easily while 29% said they were able to get most items except a few. 14% said they were able to get only some items as stores were stocked out for others and 15% said they were not able to get most of the items. 6% said they were not able to get anything.
COVID-19 lockdown impact: 35% consumers couldn’t get most of the essential goods via eCommerce apps
Many consumers have reported on LocalCircles that deliveries from ecommerce grocery apps like Grofers, BigBasket, Amazon, Flipkart etc. are not reaching them. Media reports quoted that many trucks carrying supplies and delivery executives in many parts of the country were stopped from operating by the police during the ‘Janata Curfew’, even after the Government via Department of Consumer Affairs, classified ecommerce and wholesale delivery as a part of ‘essential services’. The letter from Secretary, Consumer Affairs to the Chief Secretaries of all states advised them to allow all the nodes of ecommerce activities like warehousing, logistics, their vendors & delivery partners etc. to operate during the lockdown so that a shortage of essential items does not occur.
Consumers were also asked when they tried to purchase essential goods (wheat, rice, pulses, salt, sugar, etc) from a retail store during the last 3 days, what was your experience like. 51% said they were able to get everything easily while 32% said they were able to get most items except a few. 9% said they were able to get only some items as stores were stocked out for others and 8% said they were not able to get most of the items.
COVID-19 lockdown impact: 17% consumers couldn’t find most of the essential goods when they went to retail stores
LocalCircles in a letter to the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, had also suggested that the super stockists, distributors and whole sellers of essentials should be directed to tie up with ecommerce platforms and organised retailers at a local level to list and supply their products through these channels. According to LocalCircles, the ecommerce platforms and the organised retailers should also be directed to deploy their staff on site at the super stockists, distributors and whole sellers to on board them as a seller or supplier and assist with processes as needed. Such a move will lead to better findability for consumers and will optimize timely fulfilment of consumer demands.
The Department of Food & Public Distribution ensures the food security and availability for the citizens of India through FCI, CWC, CWRC and HVOC. In the same letter, LocalCircles also suggested that during this time of COVID-19 outbreak, the supplies in these Government warehouses could be made available, wherever feasible via organised retailers and ecommerce platforms. If re-packaging as a step is required, local entities may be designated to provide this value-added service and make the supplies available via these two channels.
Basis the survey findings, it seems that the states have been unable to ensure movement of essential goods effectively and as a result a sizable percent of the consumers are unable to get essential goods.
It is critical that the state machinery sensitises police leadership such that the officials on the ground do not create bottlenecks in the supply of essential goods to wholesale and retail stores and homes of people. The last thing we as a country want in this COVID-19 outbreak is long queues outside stores or scuffles for who gets to buy that last sugar packet in the store.
LocalCircles will be sharing the findings of this report with all relevant stakeholders in the Central Government and all Chief Secretaries.