The Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) on Monday said it had requested the government to open up e-commerce services, adding that the online vs offline debate is an ‘incorrect portrayal’ of the ground reality as lakhs of sellers from the physical markets also sold online.
This follows the ‘last-minute announcement’ by MHA on Sunday, limiting e-commerce to supply of essential goods even as companies prepared to scale up operations based on an earlier order.
“The IAMAI, on behalf of e-commerce platforms, has requested the government to open up e-commerce services,” it said in a statement, adding that medium and small offline enterprises were powering the online e-commerce in a significant way. “This is especially true for products like apparel, footwear, small electronic items and household goods, including utensils etc.”
It said resumption of one part of their business would help them with liquidity and lead to larger restoration of demand. Besides, thousands of kiranas are now leveraging e-commerce.
“Today, the only priority is to emphasise on ‘social distancing’ and e-commerce can support India’s fight against COVID-9. After nearly a month of lockdown, the debate is not necessarily between what is ‘essential’ and what is ‘non-essential’.
The real debate is how not to choke demand completely when the country is going through a health crisis,” the industry body said.
It added that the key to returning to normal was the fulfilment of consumer demand, which, under the present public health crisis, could be effectively done through e-commerce.
Pointing that the government had allowed a certain category of manufacturing, including electronics, and for the manufacturing to start, IAMAI said it was important that manufactured items were delivered to the customers.
“Preservation of consumer demand is of prime importance that will keep the economy chugging along as the country starts the difficult process of economic recovery.
This demand needs to be met and nurtured towards restoration rather than being suppressed to a future date,” Subho Ray, president, IAMAI, said.