While the ecommerce players were already sourcing from cash and carry companies, officials said collaboration with small retail stores is ideal in the current situation.
Moreover, the government will also review the definition of ‘essentials’ and widen it to include work-from-home essentials such as routers, chargers and even stationery, laptops and tablets as students across the country take online classes and need these to support their education.
“We are encouraging tie ups with the local kirana stores. That is ideal because their supply lines are continuing,” said one official in the know of the development. “In any case, ecommerce companies are sourcing from cash and carry companies.”
Flipkart, India’s largest ecommerce company, said it is already in discussion with several kirana aggregators to start such pilots and scale them up for doorstep delivery in affected areas to help with the essential supplies. “To support consumers’ with access to what they need with doorstep deliveries, we are constantly looking at new and innovative avenues for collaboration and ecosystem partnerships,” a Flipkart spokesperson said. “As a company, which is already running a robust programme with kiranas, resellers and general trade stores, we support and welcome the government’s thought on this initiative.”
The issue was discussed at meetings that the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade had with offline retailers and online marketplaces.
“This is a doable mechanism because that way people don’t have to come out of their houses to buy essentials,” said an industry source, who attended one such meeting last week.