Lockdown 3.0: E-commerce users begin to log back onto Amazon, Flipkart, others for non-essentials

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Updated: May 11, 2020 6:03 PM

The necessity and aspiration based shopping of non-essential goods, which was suppressed for 40 days, is steadily moving towards pre-Covid level though that’s still a far cry.

Demand for non-essential goods is likely to take more time than just a few weeks or months to recover.

As the government allowed e-commerce activity in the country to resume partially in select regions, the consumers are gradually coming back onto online portals such as Amazon, Flipkart, Paytm Mall etc. The necessity and aspiration based shopping of non-essential goods, which was suppressed for 40 days, is steadily moving towards pre-Covid level though that’s still a far cry. For instance, SoftBank and Alibaba-backed e-commerce portal Paytm Mall said that the demand for non-essential goods has doubled in the past one week with a “massive surge” in search of large-ticket goods including mobile phones, laptops, home, and kitchen among other things.

Similarly, Flipkart had also cited an increase in searches instead of orders received from the permissible green and orange zones. “Laptops, consumer electronics (such as headphones), mobiles, air conditioners, coolers, T-shirts, and other essentials,” were the categories witnessing growth in product searches, Anil Goteti, Senior Vice President, Flipkart said recently. However, how many searches converted into orders wasn’t disclosed by such e-commerce firms.

“While consumers may be checking out products on these (e-commerce) portals but for demand to fully recover to pre-Covid level, it might take longer than just a few weeks or months. This also depends on the lockdown and Covid situation ahead as well as the impact on purchasing power and disposable income levels of consumers who are going through pay cuts, job loss etc.” an e-commerce expert told Financial Express Online. The Ministry of Home Affairs had allowed e-commerce firms to deliver non-essential goods as well in green and orange zones in lockdown 3.0 that began May 4.

Also read: This nation asks citizens to eat cheese as national duty; says, it will save from coronavirus shock

For Paytm Mall, which remains a much smaller rival to Amazon and Flipkart, the overall increase was 1.5x in demand for “consumer electronics” including earphones and headphones apart from speakers, mobile and laptop accessories, home items during the first three days of relaxed lockdown guidelines. Masks, trimmers, board games etc also saw demand surge.

“People are buying products that cater to the change in their lifestyle caused by this prolonged stay at home,” Srinivas Mothey, Senior Vice President, Paytm Mall said in a statement. The surge in non-essential goods “would be doable that of normal days” as and when more regions turn green and orange.

For Amazon and Snapdeal, the majority of orders received after the government relaxed lockdown guidelines have been into apparel, electronics, home and household product categories. While baby clothes and electrical appliances were the top categories for Amazon; home products including kitchen appliances, apparel such as summer clothes and electronic accessories like phone chargers, earphones etc were leading categories for semi-urban-market focused Snapdeal. “These segments were expected to be overweight just post-recovery, and their share of the overall basket will likely stabilize over time,” Utkarsh Sinha, Managing Director, Bexley advisors told Financial Express Online.

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