The protests that have erupted since the Supreme Court denied the Karnataka government’s plea on the Cauvery issue on Monday, following which the police declared Section 144 in the city till Wednesday, has taken a toll on Bengaluru’s offices, retail industry, and transport. While the majority of the workforce in the city’s private sector was forced to stay home, e-commerce deliveries had to shut down for more than 24 hours.
After wrapping up early on Monday, Flipkart completely shut down operations on Tuesday. In an email, Neeraj Aggarwal, Head — Supply Chain Operations at Flipkart, said, “Bengaluru is an important hub of our last-mile operations. No damage was reported as we wrapped up operations immediately after the situation worsened. As of today[Tuesday], we have stalled operations because the safety of our delivery staff remains our top priority. As we hope for the situation to get better soon, we are trying to mitigate all customer impact by keeping them informed about expected delays.”
Food delivery startup FreshMenu was not able to function in most parts of Bengaluru till 6 pm either. Founder and CEO Rashmi Daga told YourStory that whether they would function at night would depend on the local situation. “Electronic City and Rajajinagar have been completely shut down as the protests are keen. For the safety of our delivery boys, we are cautious,” she said, adding that their supplies were not going as smooth as usual.
Food delivery marketplace Swiggy also lost a day’s worth of business on Tuesday. Nandan Reddy, Co-founder, said that they wrapped up business by 2.30 pm on Monday as the delivery boys complained of protests. “Since we follow a marketplace model, our business depends on restaurant partners opening shop,” he told YourStory. At 6.30 pm on Tuesday they started functioning in Indiranagar, HSR Layout, and Koramangala.
Since the e-commerce biggies have fulfilment centres across India, national bandhs seldom impact deliveries, but seeing as how Bengaluru has become a hotspot, an email regarding the delay was sent out to customers. In a statement, an Amazon India spokesperson said, “Owing to the situation in Bengaluru currently, the delivery of products is temporarily impacted. We will resume all deliveries at the earliest.”
Although ASSOCHAM has said that the protests have caused Karnataka a loss of Rs 22,000–25000 crore, the online sellers and marketplaces YourStory spoke to were not willing to comment on their individual losses.
Bengaluru-based online grocery seller Bigbasket also faced the wrath of protests in their largest market. CEO and Co-founder Hari Menon told YourStory that they were not able to deliver orders from Monday afternoon onwards, causing orders to pile up. “Almost 20,000 orders pending from Monday and Tuesday will have to be cleared on priority in the next two days. Since the website is still functioning, we are getting more orders, but we will be delivering the current orders only after two days,” he said. Although their call centre was closed, Bigbasket communicated with their customers via SMS to reschedule the deliveries. Hari said that there have been no losses per se.
The Supreme Court will hear Karnataka’s plea against Tamil Nadu on September 20. If this judgement is also unfavourable to Karnataka, will the city come to another standstill, hitting e-commerce hard again?
(with inputs from Sindhu Kashyap)