E-Commerce Retails Hit A Bump In Road Amid COVID-19 – OpEd


With the worldwide spread of the pandemic COVID-19, the operations of e-commerce retail hit a road bump, this outbreak has not only threatened the human life but also switching on a red signal to the virtual business, given the weeks and months-long lockdown imposed in many countries across the world, the day to day business operations of the online retails hit a stumbling block in terms of fall in their customer size and the downward sweep of the financial performance.

On March 15, Flipkart, one of the biggest E-commerce company, proclaimed a temporary suspension of its business operations in view of the 21-day long nationwide lockdown in India because of the outbreak of COVID-19. The website of Flipkart went on for a temporary break showing ” Hello fellow Indians, We are temporarily suspending operations. Your needs have always been our priority and our promise is that we will be back to serve you, as soon as possible,” as an emergency message. With the extension of the lockdown in India, Flipkart’s official website further added to its previous message “These are difficult times, times like no other. Never before, have communities stayed apart to stay safe, never before, has been at home meant helping the nation’s safety. We urge you to stay home to stay safe. We will get there. And we will get through. Together.”

However, according to the media reports, the delivery of food items, pharmaceuticals, and medical equipment have been exempted from the lockdown, still, the halt in the supply-chain has caused a depressing situation both for the online retails and the prospect customers. the spread of the pandemic has not only dented the E-commerce in India, but the brunt of the outbreak is also borne worldwide by the online retails and is becoming uncontrollable as the days pass by. On April 10, Amazon suspended shipping its typical products, nevertheless, the company continued shipping safety and hygienic items to the people such as masks and cleaning equipment, “our top concern is the health and safety of our employees. We made over 150 process updates to help protect employees, from enhanced cleaning and social distancing measures to piloting new efforts like using disinfectant fog in our New York fulfillment center,” a tagline note by Amazon.

The findings of a recently conducted research reveal that the degree to which the general public has avoided flocking to crowded places depends on the severity of the outbreak in each country. For example, as of  March 2020, according to a statistical survey conducted by You Go, 85% of internet users in China and 83% of those in Hong Kong have expressed that, they had avoided crowded public places in the past two weeks. Just more than a quarter (27%) of those in the US and 14% in the UK said the same. With such facts, as much as people avoid going outside, the trend line of the supply-chain for many E-commerce firms will collapse.

With the swiftness in continuous rise of COVID-19, other web-based businesses such as intellectual property and consulting firms have also witnessed a detrimental change in terms of consumer loss, as there have already been evident hints of negative change in the behavior of consumers, the virtual business firms fear the aftermath caused by COVID-19. Self-quarantines and escalating concerns about roaming outside in public places or delivering items other than safety equipment result in the loss of customers for many retail.

*Hamayun Khan, Freelance Writer for Business Times, MBA final year at IK Gujral Punjab Technical University.

Hamayun Khan

Hamayun Khan holds an MBA in Finance and Marketing from IKG Punjab Technical University, India and is a researcher at OSCAR, an Afghanistan-based local NGO.

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