E-commerce companies like Amazon and Flipkart were left stranded as the Government of India on Sunday revised its guidelines and said that non-essential items like smartphones will not be sold until the lockdown ends.
Along with e-commerce platforms, various smartphone manufacturers were also left in limbo as they were preparing to start selling their products after April 20.
The Ministry of Home Affairs had issued guidelines on May 15 that had lifted restrictions from e-commerce majors to sell mobile phones and electronic items, including refrigerators, televisions, air conditioners, etc.
Chinese smartphone player Realme was all set to start online sales of its smartphones from April 20, along with launching Narzo smartphone series on April 21 through e-commerce platforms, which was the first launch post 21-day lockdown in the country.
The launch now stands postponed until further notice.
An Amazon India spokesperson said the company appreciates the vision of the government, but also noted that the decision would disappoint the consumers and several small businesses and sellers.
We appreciate and are fully committed to the vision of the government to keep the citizens healthy. The need of the hour is to ensure the safety of our citizens first, serving their needs while they stay at home.Amazon India spokesperson to IANS
Manu Jain, Global Vice President, Xiaomi and Managing Director, Xiaomi India, tweeted that they have received an update from the MHA suspending e-commerce for non-essential items, "affecting our decision about operating from tomorrow".
According to Tarun Pathak, Associate Director, Counterpoint Research, this move will create more uncertainty in the market, especially among the suppliers and retailers.
"Phones should be among essential items as a lot happen though them," like digital payments, online ordering, connectivity and more, he said.
Srinivas Mothey, Senior Vice President, Paytm Mall also said that the ambit of essential goods should be increased.
India is mostly working from home at the moment but many are finding it difficult as they are running low on certain items necessary to effectively operate under lockdown.Srinivas Mothey, Senior Vice President, Paytm Mall
Laptops, mobile phones and accessories, computer hardware and webcams should be allowed to be part of essential goods, he added.