E-Commerce Players to Help Deliver Essentials in India

Delhi Police notified that e-commerce or online delivery services will be included in essential services. Those e-commerce operators who supply essentials like food, groceries, medicines and household necessities have been allowed in many parts of the country. They had halted their operations after PM Modi announced a 21-day lockdown to stem the spread of Coronavirus.
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Crux of the Matter

Owing to the lockdown, E-commerce operators had halted their services. Figuring out safe passage was becoming hard for them. Amazon’s pantry page had announced that it was unable to deliver because of the local restrictions and they were in talks with the government authorities to allow them to deliver the essentials.

Medlife CEO Ananth Narayanan said that one of the company’s delivery person was hit by cops in Delhi. Flipkart, Amazon, Big Basket, etc. had announced that their services would be suspended temporarily during the lockdown. However, the government later notified that delivery operators of essential goods like groceries, food, pharmaceuticals, medical equipment, etc. will be allowed to operate.

We have been assured of the safe and smooth passage of our supply chain and delivery executives by local law enforcement authorities and are resuming our grocery and essentials services later today (Wednesday).

– Kalyan Krishnamurthy, Flipkart Group CEO

Industry experts also voiced their concerns over the proper classification of essentials across states. They also said that challenges in front of delivery operators are not less as the interstate movement of goods besides the local movement of delivery persons have been affected due to the lockdown.

In the National Capital Region and many parts of the country, online delivery operators like Flipkart, Amazon, Swiggy, Zomato, UrbanClap, Big Basket, Grofers, Reliance Fresh, Medlife, Pharmeasy, etc will be allowed to operate.


E-Commerce in India – India has an internet user base of about 475 million as of July 2019, about 40% of the population. This number is expected to be 627 million by the end of 2019. Despite being the second-largest userbase in world, only behind China (650 million, 48% of population), the penetration of e-commerce is low compared to markets like the United States (266 million, 84%), or France (54 M, 81%), but is growing, adding around 6 million new entrants every month. The industry consensus is that growth is at an inflection point.

Foreign e-commerce is subject to regulations in India; under local law, foreign companies are to serve solely as marketplaces between vendors and their customers, and are forbidden from holding inventory in the country. Under new regulations effective 1 February 2019, foreign companies will be forbidden from selling any products from vendors that they control or have equity stakes in, and it is forbidden to enter into exclusivity deals between vendors and websites. This regulation is seen as a counter to Amazon and Walmart’s influence on the market, which have given smaller traders a disadvantage in the market. More Info

Zomato acquires India's Operations of Uber Eats

Online food delivery platform Zomato acquired the Indian operations of Uber Eats, the food delivery platform run by Uber, for around $350 million (Rs 2,485 crore). The merger will consolidate the market and will give a strong competition to Swiggy.

Crux of the Matter
  • Uber Eats will cease to exist as a separate brand locally. and its users on its platform will be redirected to Zomato’s app.
  • Zomato will not absorb Uber Eats’ team in India resulting in reallocation or laying off of around 100 executives.
  • Both combined Zomato and Uber Eats India is expected to cover nearly 50-55% market share in terms of the number and value of orders.
  • Uber Eats had a stronger hold compared to Zomato in parts of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Madhya Pradesh, with about 30% market share.
  • Uber Eats had tried selling the business to Swiggy but the deal could not be completed.
  • Uber had projected an operating loss of Rs 2,197 crore in its food delivery business for the five months through December 2019.
  • Uber had halved its annual cash allocation to the food-delivery business in India to $90-120 million, which had a direct impact on the order numbers.
  • Uber had relied heavily on discounting to acquire and retain users. While it could only establish market leadership in some small towns and cities. 
  • Also, at the same time, Uber’s India rival Ola too had pulled its focus away from its food-delivery business, Foodpanda, and started to sell private brands on marketplaces.

Zomato is an Indian restaurant aggregator and food delivery start up founded by Deepinder Goyal in 2008. Zomato provides information, menus and user-reviews of restaurants, and also has food delivery options from partner restaurants in select cities. Zomato has acquired 12 startups globally. In July 2014, Zomato made its first acquisition by buying Menu-mania for an undisclosed sum. The company pursued other acquisitions such as lunchtime.cz and obedovat.sk for a combined US$3.25 million. In September 2014, Zomato acquired Poland-based restaurant search service Gastronauci for an undisclosed sum. Zomato also acquired Seattle-based food portal Urbanspoon for an estimated $60 million in 2015. More Info

Card Transactions To Be Safer After Strict RBI Guidelines

Due to the increasing number of fraud cases in India, RBI has laid out new, stricter set of rules to ensure safety from fraudulent acts. Credit and Debit cards, by default, can be now used only for domestic transactions at ATMs and Public Selling Points. Other services need to be opted for.

Crux of the Matter
  • As per the RBI guidelines for newly issued Credit and Debit cards, online transactions, international transactions, and cardless transactions need to be opted for separately.
  • There is a provision where one can enable all the above-mentioned services just by mentioning it while applying for a card in their respective banks.
  • “For existing cards, issuers may take a decision, based on their risk perception, whether to disable the card, not present (domestic and international) transactions, card-present (international) transactions and contactless transaction rights,” as per RBI guidelines.
  • The above-mentioned services will be automatically disabled in those cards which haven’t been used for a single time to do an International transaction, online and cardless transactions. Owners can resume it by enabling it through respective banks.
  • RBI has asked banks to provide an option of switching on and off the Card at any time.
  • Furthermore, banks will provide services to customers with a provision to adjust the overall limit of the sum that can be withdrawn through the card. As per RBI, banks should provide this service 24×7 through mechanisms like mobile application, ATMs, internet banking, at bank branch, and Interactive Voice Response (IVR) System.

Famous Credit Card Frauds – In July 2013, press reports indicated four Russians and a Ukrainian were indicted in the U.S. state of New Jersey for what was called “the largest hacking and data breach scheme ever prosecuted in the United States.” Albert Gonzalez was cited as a co-conspirator of the attack, which saw at least 160 million credit card losses and excess of $300 million in losses. The attack affected both American and European companies including Citigroup, Nasdaq OMX Group, PNC Financial Services Group, Visa licensee Visa Jordan, Carrefour, J. C. Penny and JetBlue Airways. From 16 July to 30 October 2013, a hacking attack compromised about a million sets of payment card data stored on computers at Neiman-Marcus. A malware system, designed to hook into cash registers and monitor the credit card authorization process (RAM-scraping malware), infiltrated Target’s systems and exposed information from as many as 110 million customers. On 15 May 2016, in a coordinated attack, a group of around 100 individuals used the data of 1600 South African credit cards to steal US$12.7 million from 1400 convenience stores in Tokyo within three hours. More Info

Reliance Announces its eCommerce Platform – JioMart

Reliance Industries Ltd. has started testing its online shopping portal JioMart which is a digital platform to compete with e-commerce giants like Amazon and Flipkart. The service of the website has bee launched with the tagline ‘India ki Nayi Dukaan’.

Crux of the Matter
  • JioMart, open to select customers who pre-register get to select from more than 50,000 grocery products, free home delivery and a return policy that asks no questions.
  • Currently, it is available only in Mumbai and nearby suburbs.
  • Jio Mart connects the last mile neighbourhood stores and consumers using the Reliance Jio network
  • Jio Mart will partner with local grocers and equip them with points of sale (PoS) terminals, low-interest working capital, inventory management skills, and GST compliance.
  • An official spokesperson said, “Kiranas are being registered and given POS machines with integrated billing applications. it enables digital transactions, promotions including loyalty, discount coupons by fast-moving consumer goods firms, and supply chain management”
  • In January 2019, chairman Mukesh Ambani had announced the launch of a new e-commerce platform.

Reliance Industries Limited is an Indian multinational conglomerate company headquartered in Mumbai, Maharashtra. Reliance owns businesses across India engaged in energy, petrochemicals, textiles, natural resources, retail, and telecommunications. The company is ranked 106th on the Fortune Global 500 list of the world’s biggest corporations as of 2019.It is ranked 8th among the Top 250 Global Energy Companies by Platts as of 2016. Reliance continues to be India’s largest exporter, accounting for 8% of India’s total merchandise exports with a value of Rs 147,755 crore and access to markets in 108 countries. More Info