Since the first day COVID-19 was announced as a pandemic, businesses have taken a major hit. It all started with the suspension of manufacturing units in China which sparked a massive domino effect on international trade and the global supply chain. Closer home, the nationwide complete lockdown and strict restrictions brought the logistics industry in India to a standstill. Shortage of labour acutely affected the availability of transportation facilities as well.
Although our country's logistics sector remains unorganised, it continues to be a vital backbone for India's economy as it forms a connection between markets, suppliers and the consumers spread across the country. Thankfully, as the restrictions are being slowly relaxed, the sector is witnessing some gain in traction again.
The decision to exempt logistics from the restriction was a necessary one as the panicked customers emptied the grocery shops during the lockdown, which called for immediate replenishment.
Logistics sector was allowed to resume deliveries and exchange of essential products in 17,229 Postal codes out of 26,000 that were serviceable across India before lockdown. As per the trends indicated by a survey conducted by a logistics company, medicines and essential food items emerged as the top priority commodities. On the flip side, demand for personal care, supplements and pet care products plummeted. This meant that these goods are now totally absent from the supply chain.
Restrictions implemented due to the lockdown had a severe impact on the delivery of goods across all cities in India. Quoting operational limitations, even the major e-commerce players rolled back their logistics services to their sellers on the platform.
In another report, India's metropolitan cities registered the highest number of deliveries although the number of sellers who were active throughout amounted to only 7 per cent of the total sellers present across India.
The constant plummeting growth rate of our economy sparked the need for reopening of businesses without compromising on necessary precautions and safety measures.
With the growing rate of infections across the country, many industrial units have closed down citing safety measures or decline in business growth. Restoring normalcy became more of a pipe dream and a demand for a solution to this problem emerged. A solution that could mitigate the impact caused by the pandemic, get production activities back on track without compromising on the safety net.
Tech emerging as the saviour
Tech-based platforms are assisting and encouraging delivery sellers and courier companies to resume services. These platforms have made contactless delivery a reality which ensures proper functioning of logistics while minimising the risk of infection among both the deliverer and the recipient. It is now providing the much-needed stimulus to help the supply chain get back on its feet and has provided enough confidence within production houses to resume work. Tech-based logistics have been successful in ensuring a safe and sanitised environment for businesses to operate.
Authorities have also removed restrictions on delivery of non-essential goods regardless of the demarcated zones listed by the government, although deliveries to containment zones are still off-limits.Although bottlenecks are being gradually removed, it will take a sufficient amount of time to recover from the damage caused by the pandemic.