E-commerce platforms have begun accepting orders for non-essential products starting May 4, the beginning of lockdown 3.0. Amazon, Flipkart and other online retail platforms are now delivering all kinds of products in Green and Orange zones, while in Red zones they are still limited to essential goods. Experts, however, feel smartphones should be moved into the essential category alongside groceries, kids, and medical products.
Neil Shah, Research Analyst at Counterpoint, told indianexpress.com, “Smartphones / Mobile Phones have become more than an essential good. People spend more time on mobile phones than their loved ones or any other thing after their bed. Mobile Phones have become pivotal to communication, commerce, content consumption and collaboration.”
Flipkart in its latest report revealed that smartphones are the most searched product category on the platform. The e-commerce platform stated that mobile phones have “remained the most searched item” on the platform. The e-commerce platform also highlighted that the search for the mid-premium segment has witnessed the biggest surge within the category. “Ideally, any phone below Rs 20,000 should be made an essential commodity,” Shah said.
Snapdeal also confirmed that “smartphones are among the top five categories of products” that people are buying these days. An Amazon spokesperson, however, didn’t specify the product category, but said “sellers on Amazon.in have received orders for smart devices, electronics, kitchen appliances, clothes and other work & study from home enablers from customers in Orange and Green Zones.”
Several smartphone manufacturers have been urging the Indian government to make smartphones an essential product given everyone is highly dependent on them for work and connect to loved ones living far away.
Almost all the metropolitan cities including Delhi NCR, Mumbai, Bengaluru and others are still in red zones. But consumers in these areas are heavily dependent on e-commerce platforms to purchase all the necessities.
While e-commerce platforms are operating in Orange and Green zones they are requesting the government to begin the delivery of non-essential goods in Red zones as well. “As we support the economic revival of small and medium businesses in the country, we urge the Government to allow an expanded list of priority products in the Red Zone which will not only serve urgent needs and spruce up economic activity but will also ensure citizen safety in a high risk area,” an Amazon spokesperson said.
Several smartphone companies including Vivo, Xiaomi and Samsung have introduced O2O solutions to ensure customers can purchase phones from nearby offline stores while staying at home. Companies have assured that they take additional safety measures to deliver products in Green and Orange zones.
Phone makers like OnePlus, Samsung, Xiaomi, Realme and others have started accepting orders on their respective e-store as well. For now, only in Green and Red zones.