COVID-19: Local vendors serve better than e-comm firms?

Coronavirus: Local vendors serving better than e-commerce firms during COVID-19 lockdown period, says report

Vegetable vendors waiting for buyers during COVID-19 lockdown. (Credit: DH Photo/S K Dinesh)

During the ongoing COVID-19 lockdown period, local vendors and retail shops have served consumers better when compared to e-commerce companies, mainly in supplying fruits and vegetables, says a recent survey. 

Only 23% consumers are able to find fruits and vegetables on ecommerce apps while 64% consumers are able to find them via local vendors and retail stores, says the survey conducted by Local Circles, a community social media platform, in association with Department of Consumers Affairs, the Government of India. 

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Logistics and interstate movement restrictions have been negatively impacting the supply. Many transporters have also said that once they deliver goods, they are not allowed to cross the state borders with empty vehicles, said the survey.

The survey was conducted at national and state levels to get insights into the availability of fruits and vegetables in local markets/stores as well as via ecommerce channels. The survey received approximately 95,000 responses from consumers located in over 244 districts of India.

The local vendors and retail stores have performed significantly better than the ecommerce platforms when it comes to delivery of fruits and vegetables. These vendors in many parts of urban India took orders over the phone and delivered the items within an hour window, said the survey. 

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When asked consumers about their experience when they tried to purchase fruits and vegetables via an ecommerce app, 18% said they were able to get most fruits and vegetables while 9% said they were able to get only some fruits and vegetables as they were out of stock for others. At least12% said they were not able to get most of the fruits and vegetables and 56% said they were not able to get anything. Only 5% said they were able to get everything easily.

Many consumers have reported that the ecommerce apps were just unable to supply fruits and vegetables during the lockdown period. Some consumers said that if they were able to add fruits and veggies in their shopping basket, the ecommerce app cancelled the items at the last minute. Consumers also highlighted that they were having a very difficult time in ordering from online platforms.

A few consumers have reported a positive change in the situation in the last 48 hours where their fruits and vegetables were getting delivered by the ecommerce platforms. Lead times, however, continue to be between 3-6 days for most platforms.

When it came to retail stores and local vendors, only 17% said they were able to get everything easily. At least 47% said they were able to get most fruits and vegetables while 17% said they were able to get only some fruits and vegetables as local retail stores were out of stock for others.