Online sales come to a halt amid coronavirus lockdown

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Published: March 28, 2020 3:45:16 AM

FabAlley & Indya co-founders Tanvi Malik and Shivani Poddar said prior to the lockdown, the firm’s online website registered regular orders and customer traffic.

But now online sales are dead due to non-availability of logistics support.But now online sales are dead due to non-availability of logistics support.

Online sales, the only recourse for retailers to stay afloat after the coronavirus pandemic hit brick-and-mortar businesses, have come to a halt after the imposition of a 21-day country-wide lockdown to curb transmission of the virus.

FabAlley & Indya co-founders Tanvi Malik and Shivani Poddar said prior to the lockdown, the firm’s online website registered regular orders and customer traffic.

However, with warehouses and tailoring units currently shut, the firm is not accepting online orders till April 14. Recovery will only start happening post the first quarter of the new financial year starting April 1, they said. “We are trying to check inventory losses by slowing production for the spring-summer season and halting further expansions,” Malik and Poddar added.

Alisha Malik, vice-president, e-commerce and marketing at Metro Brands, which houses brands like Metro Shoes and Mochi, said the company is planning for at least two quarters of lower revenues. “The recovery may not be a quick bounce back. We are maintaining a tight grip on our cash flows to ensure we stay afloat,” Malik said. Grant of relief on rentals will be a breather for the sector, Malik said.

Arijit Mazumdar, CEO and co-founder at Begaluru-based online store Northmist, said sales are down by at least 40%. On a regular day, the company has almost 4,000 people visiting its website and it sells nearly 150 T-shirts. “We cannot completely shut down as the losses will be insurmountable. But the lockdown has brought everything to a screeching halt. No courier partners are working,” Mazumdar said.

Prashant Bhatia, brand custodian at Cambridge (primarily offline), said if the current lockdown persists through the summer, the company will be looking at price reduction to clear inventory and make way for festive stocks. Vikash Pacheriwal, co-founder at Raisin, said the firm will not be processing online orders until the situation eases. The firm will use promotions to push sales both online and offline once the lockdown period ends.

Home appliances company Wonderchef’s MD Ravi Saxena, said business would get affected for a couple of months more or beyond. “There is absolutely a case to allow e-commerce and logistics services to operate beyond the domain of essential goods. Even at the peak of its lockdown, China kept all e-commerce operations open,” Saxena said.

Make-up brand Colorbar said online sales are completely shut for them and no transactions have taken place since March 22.

Harkirat Singh, MD at Aero Club that operates retail brand Woodland, said although the firm is accepting online orders, those shall be processed only when business reopens.

Madame executive director Akhil Jain said he expected regular footfalls at the stores to resume only in May. The negative cash flow will certainly affect the winter season as well.

New Delhi-based ethnic wear retail brand Odhni (which has an e-commerce website but play is predominantly offline) said it is not going to cut down on staff salary and hence there is a concern on how the fixed cost will be met. “The stakeholders to whom we outsource our work are bearing the brunt. It is difficult to think about a mitigation measure for them,” said directors Puneet Jain and Yatin Jain. For instance, rickshaw-pullers who haul the load and sustain on daily wages have lost their income.

Mayank Jain, managing partner at New Delhi-based Greenways Sarees, said their strategy initially was to push online sales to 80% of its total business against 20% earlier. But now online sales are dead due to non-availability of logistics support.

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