Looking up: E-commerce orders for Amazon, Flipkart, Snapdeal, others recover to near pre-Covid levels

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Published: May 26, 2020 6:50 PM

Within three weeks after the government began easing lockdown guidelines for online delivery of goods, India’s e-commerce sector seems to have recovered significantly.

The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the shift from brick-and-mortar to e-commerce.In the latest lockdown, which began last week, the government had further relaxed guidelines for e-commerce deliveries.

India’s e-commerce sector seems to be on a recovery spree just around three weeks after the government started easing lockdown restrictions for online delivery of goods. Nearly 70 per cent of the pre-Covid order volume, according to e-commerce-focused cloud solution provider Unicommerce, has been re-gained by the e-commerce sector that is led by Amazon, Flipkart, Snapdeal, BigBasket, Grofers and others. Unicommerce, which provides cloud-based solutions to manage inventory and orders, said it processes over 20 per cent of e-commerce volume with over 10,000 e-commerce sellers using its services to sell on multiple e-commerce platforms across categories including Myntra, Urban Company and multiple brands such as Forever New, Jack & Jones etc. Through its solutions, Unicommerce processes 5 lakh daily orders.

“The e-commerce industry is showing good signs of recovery and is expected to return back to normal in four-five weeks. Since the onset of lockdown 4.0, e-commerce has seen a consistent increase in orders. However, consumers are ordering specific products basis requirement, such as trimmers and chargers in electronics, kids clothing, home decor items etc.,” Kapil Makhija, CEO, Unicommerce told Financial Express Online.

The Ministry of Home Affairs had allowed e-commerce companies to take orders for non-essential goods as well and deliver them in green and orange zones from May 4 onwards during lockdown 3.0. In the latest lockdown, which began last week, the government had further relaxed e-commerce operations to service red zone too except containment areas. Since then, Amazon, Flipkart, Snapdeal etc. have claimed speedy recovery in orders placed and product searches on their platforms. Snapdeal claimed 65 per cent orders coming from red zone on day 1 – last Monday.

Among the categories recovering in the past few days, apparels saw 40 per cent order volume back to pre-Covid level. “People are ordering more of comfort clothes like shorts and t-shirts. However, it’s interesting to see that the kids apparel has done better recovery, with weekly sales similar to pre-lockdown volume,” the company said in its findings on the volume recovery shared with Financial Express Online.

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Other segments that have regained in the third and fourth phases of lockdown have been electronics and home décor by around 30 per cent and 50-60 per cent respectively. “People are ordering USB cables, chargers, trimmers and other important products. The demand for ACs and coolers has also increased with rising temperature across India,” the company said. For home décor, the numbers are likely to increase in weeks ahead. On the other hand, the eyewear segment witnessed orders decreasing by almost 45-50 per cent. “It will take time to regain the market as sales for sunglasses will increase, once people start going outside.”

“We are expecting that e-commerce will see a major surge in the long run. In fact, the number of online sellers is also expected to increase in the coming months. We have already seen inquiries for Unicommerce platform doubling since last one month,” said Makhija.

The growth in volumes indicate that the e-commerce companies are out of the Covid times and are likely to see further increase in demand irrespective of the Covid situation in the country. “This (online buying) will happen even if the Covid cases increase in India including for non-essential goods. Such products anyway don’t have sustained demand like essential goods such as grocery. So there will be sudden surge and then it will normalize whether the cases increase or not,” Arnav Gupta, an analyst at Forrester had told Financial Express Online.

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