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Uber, Flipkart, Ola, and Amazon start reopening their Indian services


E-commerce firms Amazon and Walmart’s Flipkart, and ride-hailing giants Ola and Uber are partly resuming their services in India after the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi slashed some restrictions late last week to revive economic activity that has been stalled since the stringent residence-at-home orders were imposed across the nation at the end of March.

In their statements, the companies said they were resuming services across the country in green and orange zones, districts which have seen less severe coronavirus outbreak. Green and orange zones make up 82 per cent of the 733 districts in India.

Amazon, Flipkart, Snapdeal and Paytm Mall have resumed accepting and delivering orders containing non-essential items (the government has classified essential items as grocery and hygiene products), and Uber and Ola will resume their cab rides in the green and orange areas.

Those living in the red zone — the area most affected by the outbreak of coronavirus — will continue to be deprived of the extended services of the aforementioned companies, the companies said. In India there are 130 districts which are labeled red. (Read the complete list here)

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All of these companies are also taking additional precautions to ensure their delivery security and driver partners and customer safety, they said.

Even those living in orange and green areas may be deprived of the extended services because some Indian state governments have imposed more stringent rules than the federal government and impose their own guidelines locally.

In addition, Ola and Uber are unable to take their passengers to red areas, and Flipkart and Amazon expect to face disruption as some of their sellers and warehouses are located in red zone.


India, which late March introduced the nationwide lockdown, extended its lockdown by two weeks from May 4 but loosened some restrictions. The March order forced many of their services to be suspended by Ola and Uber, and Amazon and Flipkart rushed to serve orders with essential items.

New Delhi said last month it would allow e-commerce firms to resume their full capacity, but it later withdrew the direction after local retail bodies voiced concern that the move would create a competitive disadvantage for brick and mortar stores.

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Research firm Forrester told TechCrunch last month that, in the first three weeks of the lockdown, e-commerce firms lost more than $1 billion in potential sales.

Several businesses have been severely disrupted by coronavirus outbreak. According to research firm Counterpoint, India, the world’s second biggest smartphone market, did not see any handset sales last month. Starting today, smartphone units also go back on sale in green and orange zones across the country.

In a call with reporters on Monday, Manu Kumar Jain, a Xiaomi VP and head of India’s business for the Chinese smartphone maker, said more than 60 percent of the company’s physical retail shops are located in green and orange zones, and they should also be operational in the near future.

He said the company is hopeful smartphone factories will resume full operations by June. Muralikrishnan B, Chief Operating Officer of Xiaomi India, said the firm currently has three to four weeks of inventory to service demand.

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The company, which has been India’s top smartphone vendor for more than two years, is capitalizing on its offline retail partners in India, Jain said.

Some activities such as air, rail, and subway travel remain prohibited across the country — regardless of the area. Further closed are schools and colleges, restaurants, shopping malls, cinema theaters.

Ayeni Sylvester
the authorAyeni Sylvester

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