Essential food items are fast disappearing from retail shelves, as well as e-commerce platforms with supplies getting disrupted in some parts of the country due to the recent Covid-induced restrictions. Night curfews and a weekend lockdown implemented in many cities, including Mumbai, over the past few days and the partial lockdown in Maharashtra has impacted deliveries. Orders are being delivered with a lag of three to four days.
Earlier, deliveries happened on the same day or the following day across e-commerce platforms. Deliveries of essentials by online retail platforms like Bigbasket, Amazon and Flipkart are being delayed across cities including Mumbai. And deliveries of non-essentials are being suspended in Maharashtra with new curbs coming into effect from April 14 night.
While e-commerce platforms have struck out places like Mumbai from their non-essential delivery list, those of essentials could be getting impacted due to what appears to be a shortage of manpower and curbs on mobility. Though deliveries of essentials by e-commerce sites are not banned in Maharashtra, the confusion at the ground level sometimes adds to the problem.
Orders for clothes, electronics and even food items booked on e-commerce retail sites are not going through. For instance, while in Maharashtra the government has included e-commerce in the essential services category, these companies would be allowed to deliver “only essential goods and services”.
Larger packs of biscuits, chocolates and other packaged food are more in demand, and hence many of these items are not available on e-commerce retail sites. The bottlenecks at this point do not seem to be due to supply disruption by the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) industry. On its part, the industry seems to be better prepared this year. Fearing restrictions with the surge in Covid infections nationwide since March, companies including Dabur have stocked up on key raw materials. Last year, manufacturing and industrials came to a standstill within hours due to the nationwide lockdown, with companies facing disruption in the supply chain when factories resumed.
Mohit Malhotra, CEO of Dabur with its flagship immunity booster Chyawanprash, said, “Anticipating a fresh lockdown in view of the rising number of Covid cases with the fresh wave, we had started working towards building our inventory, both of finished goods as well as raw and packing material in March itself. We are also applying learnings from last year on streamlining the supply chain to ensure minimal disruption. We have also brought forward supplies to retail outlets and stockists to ensure that consumers do not face any shortage in the market.”
Mondelez India, with brands including Cadbury, Oreo and Bournvita, “has taken proactive steps based on our learning from last year” to ensure uninterrupted supply of products according to Mondelez India Senior Director (sales) Praveen Dalal. He added, “We have seen trade start to stock up in states where restrictions are stricter. We continue to see a strong momentum on e-commerce across categories, as consumers prefer the safety and convenience of shopping from homes. Specifically, in traditional trade, we are seeing a strong uptick in biscuits.”