Coronavirus – a threat or an opportunity for e-retailers such as Amazon, Flipkart etc.?

The Corona Virus outbreak has wrecked numerous economies across the world; unemployment is at its highest, companies are sustaining losses worth millions coupled with the growing demand for amenities and medical facilities. While malls, shops and retail stores are closing down to combat the spread of the virus, online stores are increasing in demand for basic necessities.

According to Amazon, with the enforcement of the lockdown, it has seen an increase in people shopping online. Amazon has announced that it will not deliver ‘low-priority items’ and will now focus on supplying basic essentials such as grocery and medicine, adopting the required preventive measures to curb the spread of the infamous virus.

Amazon sellers across the world have anticipated the disastrous impact on their businesses due to a disruption in their major supply chains. Around 70% of Amazon sellers rely solely on China for the manufacture of their products but since China announced a nationwide lockdown, Chinese workers have been living in quarantine, powerless to manufacture and ship goods to their overseas customers. 36% sellers have suffered a decline in sales while 11% of Amazon sellers have raised their prices because of the catastrophic impact on their sales and profits.

E-commerce giant, Flipkart said that they will be temporarily closing down and suspending operations due to the nationwide lockdown in India.

“Hello fellow Indians, We are temporarily suspending operations. Your needs have always been our priority and our promise is that we will be back to serve you, as soon as possible,” read a message on their website, heralding their closure.

The Karnataka health department asked companies not to send their employees overseas to limit the risk of contracting Covid-19 and infecting more people on their return to India.

In a meeting with the department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade, Ministry of Consumer Affairs, e-commerce companies including Flipkart, Amazon and Uber presented their requirements to accelerate the availability of essential items across the country.

These companies are confronting losses as they are unable to attract their customers with discounts, according to the new guidelines, prohibiting them from influencing the prices of goods and services.

While online marketplaces are falling behind, Alibaba Group announced donation of essential medical supplies, including face masks and COVID-19 test kits, to India and six other nations to halt the spread of the virus.“Collectively, these seven countries will receive a total of 1.7 million face masks, 1,65,000 test kits as well as protective clothing and protective clothing and medical equipment such as ventilators and forehead thermometers,” the company said in a statement.

Therefore, inevitable losses are bound to ensnare e-retailers in the foreseeable future with net losses amounting in crores for the financial year, according to data evaluated by business intelligence platform Tofler. One can only hope for the virus to dissipate soon enough for several companies to come back on track and prevent bankruptcy at a point in time.

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