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E-commerce Sector in India Posts 90% Recovery as Sales Volumes Return to Pre-Lockdown Levels: Report

Sales volume in the e-commerce sector in India has recovered by over 90 per cent as compared to its pre-lockdown level, said a report on Monday. The sector is predicted to fully recover and achieve the pre-lockdown order volume by the end of this month, according to the consumer trend analysis by Unicommerce, one of India‘s leading e-commerce focused supply chain SaaS (software-as-a-service) platform.

“The e-commerce sector continues to lead the growth for the overall economy of India. The increasing change in consumer behaviour to prefer online shopping has come as a great surprise and relief for online sellers and marketplaces,” Kapil Makhija, CEO, Unicommerce said in a statement. “With the current pace and recovery rate, we are positive that the sector will fully recover in the next couple of weeks.”

Analysing the overall category growth, consumer electronic appliances category, excluding smartphones, have witnessed the strongest growth than any other category. The sector has not just recovered its pent up the volume but also shown great improvement with over 45 per cent growth in the overall order volume compared to pre-lockdown levels, said the report. However, the average cart size has decreased by around 5-10 per cent, as people are ordering more low value required to operate from home.

As most of the organisation continue to work from home, there has been a significant surge in demand for products that will help professionals operate easily from homes such as USB cables, extension cords, trimmers and wifi routers to name a few. On the other hand, the online fashion sector has seen an overall 70 per cent recovery rate compared to pre-lockdown levels. However, the average cart size has decreased by around 25 per cent. This signifies that the demand for high-value products is significantly less as compared to affordable products.

The popular products in the category are nightwears and comfortable home-wear that have seen the maximum traction. In fact, few sub-categories in fashion such as kids apparels have witnessed over 100 per cent growth already in the last 15 days compared to the pre-lockdown levels, said the report.


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Spike in Covid-19 Cases in India Are Pushing Users to Opt For E-Commerce Delivery: Survey

The rising cases of COVID 19 are slowly pushing people to order for home delivery via e-commerce sites, according to a survey by LocalCircles. As per the survey, 36 per cent e-commerce customers have placed all their orders, 23 per cent say they have placed only some of their orders and will more place soon. Three weeks post lockdown relaxation for non-essential e-commerce as many as 36 per cent customers say, yet to place their orders.

During these times, to minimize human contact, people have started resorting to getting delivered what they need at their doorsteps via e-commerce or the local retailer/Kirana store. Most e-commerce grocery apps saw their volumes go up several fold as people ordered essentials during lockdown via e-commerce. Post-May 17, the Government permitted delivery of even non-essentials via e-commerce.

LocalCircles conducted a survey to get consumer pulse on what have they been shopping on e-commerce sites since lockdown May 17. The survey received more than 16,000 votes from 231 districts of India.

Consumers were asked since e-commerce was permitted to ship app products by the Government, did they place all their orders for products like gadgets, appliances, office/school supplies, fashion, home supplies, toys etc. A 36 per cent answered in a ‘yes’ while 23 per cent said they have placed some orders but some more are to be done. The remaining 36 per cent said they have not placed any orders yet but will do it soon.

When asked what category of products (beyond essentials) do they plan to order via e-commerce sites in the next 30 days, 5 per cent said gadgets like laptop, tablet, printer, mobile etc, while another 5 per cent said office or school supplies. 6 per cent said appliances of white goods, 5 per cent said home improvement and furnishings, 8 per cent said fashion, apparels toys, gifts, while 17 per cent said others. 54 per cent said they plan to place orders for one or more of the above categories.

This indicates that while three weeks have passed, a sizable 36 per cent e-commerce customers are yet to place their orders and 23 per cent are yet to place some. Consumers who are not registered or do not order via e-commerce sites were excluded from this survey.

With the COVID-19 curve touching new peaks every day and average daily cases now between 10,000-11,000, 79 per cent Indians feel a significant rise in cases in the coming months. Post June 1, as the Government implemented Unlock 1.0 and permitted the opening of many more public places, extended hours for markets and offices at full capacity, anxiety or worry about catching an infection has also gone up. Per LocalCircles survey, 56 per cent of Indians are currently feeling anxious and worried.


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COVID-19 Lockdown Has Helped Indians Improve Their Heart Health: Fitbit

Even as physical activities declined during Covid-19 lockdown, resting heart rate of Indians improved, a key metric that can be an important indicator of fitness level and overall heart health, according to new data from Fitbit users. On average, resting heart rate dropped by 2.56 beats per minute in female users aged 18-29 and 2.35 beats per minute in male users aged 18-29 showed the data from January-April. Resting heart rate is the number of times your heart beats per minute when still at rest.

Not only can it be used to track fitness level, but it can also alert about potential health issues such as illness, high-stress levels, sleep deprivation, dehydration, overtraining, and underlying medical conditions. While Fitbit saw a decline in physical activity, like average step count, as people got stuck indoors, it saw the opposite effect of improved heart health. The decline in physical activity is generally associated with a rise in resting heart rate. Fitbit said two factors could be responsible for a drop in resting heart rate of Indians despite reduced average step count.

These two factors are increased sleep time and decreased bedtime variability. The average sleep duration in India increased by 13.81 minutes, Fitbit said, adding that not getting enough sleep can have a negative impact on resting heart rate. Moreover, bedtime variability among Indian reduced by 7.7 minutes during January-April, showed the data. Reduced bedtime variability means more consistent bedtime. The Fitbit data showed that younger users from many countries experienced the largest decline in resting heart rate and, across age groups, India, Spain, Mexico, France, and Singapore saw the biggest improvements.



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Swiggy Expands Alcohol Delivery Services To West Bengal After Jharkhand, Odisha

File photo of Swiggy's logo.

File photo of Swiggy’s logo.

Customers need to complete a one-time instant age verification by uploading a picture of their valid government ID followed by a selfie for authentication.

  • PTI
  • Last Updated: June 4, 2020, 3:20 PM IST

After Jharkhand and Odisha, food ordering and delivery platform Swiggy on Thursday started home delivery of alcohol in Kolkata and Siliguri and plans to expand to 24 other cities across West Bengal. Swiggy is leveraging its existing technology and logistics infrastructure to ensure all guidelines are maintained including social distancing, a company statement said. Food ordering platforms have initiated home delivery of alcohol as part of efforts to prevent overcrowding of people at shops amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“Building on our successful launches in Jharkhand and Odisha we will now be enabling safe home delivery of alcohol in West Bengal. Starting with Kolkata and Siliguri, we will expand our services to 24 other cities across the state,” a company spokesperson said. The company is partnering with authorised retailers across major cities after validating their license and other required documents as outlined by the state government.

Retail partners will be equipped with a dedicated partner app that enables all aspects related to online processing of orders, the statement said. The spokesperson further noted that the company has been working closely with the West Bengal government since the beginning of the lockdown to provide support on multiple fronts including delivering grocery and essentials, seafood items, schoolbooks and distributing close to one lakh meals to the needy in Kolkata. Both the delivery partners and retailers are being virtually trained through their respective apps to facilitate smooth processing and fulfilment of orders.

Swiggy has implemented multiple safety measures to ensure safe home delivery of alcohol orders. Customers need to complete a one-time instant age verification by uploading a picture of their valid government ID, followed by a selfie which the platform will use for authentication. There is also a capping on the order quantity to ensure a customer does not order alcohol above the prescribed limit as per the state’s excise law, it said adding that customers in West Bengal can access the ‘Wine Shops’ category by updating their Swiggy app.




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Online Shopping Orders Are So High, Amazon India is Looking to Hire 50,000 Workers

Representative image.
(Photo: Associated Press)

Representative image.
(Photo: Associated Press)

The temporary hires will work in Amazon’s fulfilment centers and as part of its delivery network, Amazon said.

  • Reuters
  • Last Updated: May 23, 2020, 1:02 PM IST

Amazon.com Inc’s India unit said it would hire 50,000 temporary workers to meet a surge in online shopping in the country, where customers have been stuck indoors for two months in lockdown to fight the coronavirus outbreak. E-commerce firms faced massive disruption in the initial days of the lockdown in India, but a slow easing of the stringent regulations has allowed them to resume large parts of their operations.

“We want to continue helping customers all over India get everything they need so they can continue to practice social distancing,” Amazon senior executive Akhil Saxena said in a statement on the company’s blog. “(The move) will also keep as many people as possible working during this pandemic while providing a safe work environment for them,” said Saxena, Amazon’s VP for customer fulfilment operations in APAC, MENA & Latam.

The temporary hires will work in Amazon’s fulfilment centers and as part of its delivery network, the company said, making the announcement at a time when various other companies in the country have been forced to cut jobs as they try to tide over the health crisis. Amazon itself has pushed its annual global Prime Day event, traditionally a summer affair, to September, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday.

In India, where the Jeff Bezos-led company faces stiff competition from Walmart Inc’s Flipkart, Amazon earlier said it plans to create 1 million jobs by 2025. The company also said on Thursday it plans to enter the food delivery business in India, pitting itself against well-established startups such as Swiggy and Zomato.




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Kerala Sees Record Surge in Phising Attacks Amid Coronavirus Lockdown

Image for Representation.

Image for Representation.

These attacks aimed to compromise computers and mobile devices to gain access to users confidential data, banking details and cryptocurrency accounts.

  • PTI
  • Last Updated: May 21, 2020, 5:04 PM IST

The COVID-19-induced lockdown saw a spurt in cyber crimes in India with Kerala recording the highest number of cyberattacks during the period, according to an analysis of IT security solutions provider K7 Computing. The report analyses various cyberattacks within India during the pandemic and reveals that threat actors targeted

the States with COVID-19-themed attacks aimed at exploiting user trust.

The sudden surge in the frequency of attacks witnessed from February 2020 to mid-April 2020 indicates that scamsters across the world were exploiting the widespread panic around coronavirus at both the individual and corporate level, the company said in a statement. These attacks aimed to compromise computers and mobile devices to gain access to users confidential data, banking details and cryptocurrency accounts. The key threats seen during this period ranged from phishing attacks to rogue apps disguised as COVID-19 information apps that targeted users sensitive data.

Phishing attacks were noticed more in Tier-II and Tier-III cities while the metros fared better. Smaller cities saw over 250 attacks being blocked per 10,000 users. Users from Ghaziabad and Lucknow seem to have faced almost six and four times the number of attacks, respectively, as Bengaluru users.

“In Kerala, regions like Kottayam, Kannur, Kollam, and Kochi saw the highest hits with 462, 374, 236, and 147 attacks respectively, while the state as a whole saw around 2,000 attacks during the period the highest thus far in the country. This was followed by Punjab with 207 attacks and Tamil Nadu at 184 attacks,” the statement said.

A majority of the recorded attacks were phishing attacks with sophisticated campaigns that could easily snare even the most educated users, it said. These attacks were aimed at heightening users fears and creating a sense of urgency to take action. The report noted phishing attacks where scamsters posed as representatives of the United States Department of the Treasury, the World Health Organisation, and the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

Users were encouraged to visit links that would automatically download malware on the host computer such as the Agent Tesla keylogger or Lokibot information-stealing malware, infamous banking Trojans such as Trickbot or Zeus Sphinx, and even disastrous ransomware. Other attacks included infected COVID-19 Android apps like CoronaSafetyMask that scam users with promises of masks

for upfront payment; the spyware app Project Spy; and seemingly genuine apps that are infected with dangerous malware like banking Trojans such as Gimp, Anubis and Cerberus, it was stated.



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Sony Center Online Store Launched, to Sell Sony TVs, Speakers, Consoles and More

Sony Online store.

Sony Online store.

Sony has announced its ‘Stay Home, Stay Safe’ initiative under which it has launched the ShopatSC.com website.

  • News18.com
  • Last Updated: May 18, 2020, 6:21 PM IST

Japanese electronics giant Sony has opened the Sony Centre, a third-party online retail store for Sony products, for its Indian customers. The move comes at a time when several tech companies are trying to revive sales as the Covid-19 lockdown periods look set to lift. Under its ‘Stay Home, Stay Home’ initiative, the company has launched ShopatSC.com.

Maintaining a Customer-Centric Approach

Sony said that it has always maintained a customer-centric approach and this new initiative will be another step towards cementing its long association with the customers across the country.

“Having a strong footprint offline, Sony India has always kept a customer-centric approach and with this new initiative, it will be another step towards strengthening our relationship with customers and Sony Center partners,” Sunil Nayyar, Managing Director, Sony India, said. “We are confident that the portal will help reach out to a new wave of online shoppers and provide a seamless experience that Sony is known for in its offline market as well,” he added.

Discounts and Special Offers

Under the new initiative, Sony is offering discounts up to 20 percent across select products, advanced-booking options and zero-interest long tenure EMI facility. For instance, on its flagship Bravia TV models, Sony is offering flat 32 percent discounts for its 75-inch and 85-inch models. For photography enthusiasts, Sony is also giving 12% discounts on the purchase of full-frame Alpha 9 II, Alpha 7R IV, Sony ILCE-9 full-frame mirrorless cameras. The payment on the purchase of products can be done through debit cards, credit cards, net-banking, UPI, and e-wallet. Furthermore, the first 1,000 customers will also get a discount of Rs 1,000 on the purchase of products that are worth Rs 15,000 and above.

The service is currently available at the Green and Orange zones as per the norms and regulations laid by the government. Sony said that it will start delivering products in the red/restricted zones once the lockdown is lifted.




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Flipkart Awaits Advisory From States to Resume Full Services Despite Relaxation from Govt

Walmart-owned Flipkart on Monday said it is awaiting advisories from different states for resuming full services, including in red zones, a day after Home Ministry’s guidelines on lockdown 4.0 were released. According to Union Home Ministry’s order on Sunday, “all other activities will be permitted, except those which are specifically prohibited” under the fourth phase of the lockdown that ends on May 31.

However, in containment zones, only essential activities will be allowed. States and union territories, based on their assessment of the situation, may prohibit certain other activities in various zones or impose such restrictions as deemed necessary, the order had added.

“Post the Government of India’s guidelines last evening, we are awaiting the advisories from different states. We will continue to work in accordance with the directives from the government and local authorities while serving customers, sellers through our safe supply chain,” a Flipkart Group spokesperson said.

The spokesperson added that the company is working with lakhs of MSMEs and sellers across India to provide them with constant counsel and help with their business readiness, and is following safety and health procedures at its facilities and for supply chain and delivery staff.

“Our seller support team is providing on-ground support to sellers to help them resume operations swiftly and make products available for the consumers in this time of need…,” the spokesperson said. “We welcome the efforts by the governments at Centre and states in progressively charting out a lockdown exit plan and allowing e-commerce to serve the consumers with their varied product needs in all the classified zones, except containment zones,” the spokesperson added.

In the first two phases of the lockdown (that started from March 25), e-commerce companies were allowed to sell only essential items like grocery, healthcare and pharmaceutical products. In the third phase (May 4-17), these platforms were allowed to sell all items in orange and green zones, but only essential items were allowed to be shipped in red zones, which included top e-commerce hubs like Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Pune and Hyderabad.

An Amazon India spokesperson said the latest development will give a fillip to the six lakh retailers and MSMEs on its marketplace and help revive economic activity more broadly. “We are humbled by the opportunity to be an extended partner to the government as it balances saving lives alongside creating livelihood. We remain committed as always to ensuring the safety of our customers and our employees while creating business and employment opportunity,” the spokesperson added.

E-commerce platforms saw a significant impact on their businesses during the lockdown, given that grocery segment accounts for a small portion of online sales. Sales of non-essential items on e-commerce platforms in the first week of May, after-sales of such items were allowed in green and orange zones, were lower than last year on account of the lockdown.

However, industry executives said orders were scaling as people bought apparel, smartphones and grooming products among other items. The industry continues to face the challenge of availability of limited manpower for warehouses and delivery.

Paytm Mall said it saw a 50 per cent surge in sales for grooming products like shavers, trimmers, epilators, hair straighteners and styling products and hair dryers, from tier II and III cities in May over March. Most trimmers were sold in cities like Lucknow, Raipur, Guwahati, Belgaum, Nagpur, Surat, and other smaller cities.

The company said it has also seen a steady increase in the number of female shoppers from smaller towns on its platform. “We believe the lockdown has made people realize in metros as well as smaller cities that personal grooming products should always be kept handy. We think the demand for these products is set to rise further over the next few weeks and post that it would remain consistently high,” Srinivas Mothey, Senior Vice President of Paytm Mall, said.

Industry body IAMAI said digital services till date have helped ease the burden of lockdown with services facilitating work from home, e-commerce, edutech, digital payments and digital entertainment. “Even as lockdown 4.0 is extended, the country is looking at a new normal where social interactions are bound to be severely distorted, either under injunction or public awareness or concerns. Digital platforms are the only plausible medium for both businesses and customers in the coming days and need to be strengthened,” the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) said.

It added that the “bold and emerging Indian tech start-up sector is more than capable to develop a self-reliant digital services sector that can cater to the needs of the country in the new normal”.



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Online Doctor Visits: Best Apps for Remote Doctor Consultations from Home

Image for Representation.

Image for Representation.

Let’s take a look at these 5 apps which can assist you with online doctor visits and consultations.

  • Trending Desk
  • Last Updated: May 16, 2020, 3:13 PM IST

Due to the ongoing lockdown because of the coronavirus pandemic, majority of the people are refraining to go to hospitals. Even though you cannot physically see a doctor in these times there are a variety of apps available on both iOS and Android phones wherein you can consult them for various issues. Some of these apps not only have the option to cater to your physical health but also let you consult certified mental health professionals if need be.

Take a look at these 5 apps which can assist you with an appointment with a doctor online:

  1. Practo

    Available on both Android and iOS, Practo lets a person book an appointment with a doctor online. The session with the doctor can be held over a voice call or chat. Both paid and free consultations are available on the portal. All queries on the app are answered, in case a query goes unanswered then, the money is refunded.

  2. mfine

    The app connects its users with 375 doctors across 20 specialisations. It can be accessed by both android and iOS users. mfine connects the person with the doctor within a period of 30-40 minutes. Each service on the app is payable. However, a follow up of an appointment that has been taken through the app within a week’s time is not charged.

  3. Tata Health

    This app can connect a person with a doctor 24*7. The consultation on the app takes place through audio calls and chats. The app also lets the user purchase medicines and book lab tests if need be. The app is available on both App Store and Play Store.

  4. Lybrate

    The company which was found in 2013 is considered to be among the top brands in this field. The app not only connects patients with doctors through mobile app and website but also has a facility with which samples can be collected from the patients doorstep. The result of the test is made available online. Lybrate can be downloaded through App Store and Google Play Store.

  5. DocOn

    The app lets the person consult a doctor through video call. Prescription are also given digitally and your medical history too is maintained on the app. After you book an appointment at your chosen time slot, the concerned doctor will video call you at that time.




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Vodafone-Idea is Bringing Contactless Voice-Based Recharge Facility For Its Customers

Image for Representation.

Image for Representation.

Vodafone Idea’s Smart Connect retailer app will now allow retailers to recharge without having to hand over the phone to the customer to enter their mobile number.

  • PTI
  • Last Updated: May 14, 2020, 3:22 PM IST

Telecom operator Vodafone Idea on Thursday announced its voice-based contactless recharge facility at retail outlets to enable customers and retailers to adhere to social distancing in the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic. As retail outlets in various orange and green zones across the country start to open, Vodafone Idea is ensuring complete implementation of social distancing protocol at its stores, the company said in a statement.

“This has been made possible through Vodafone Idea’s Smart Connect retailer app which allows retailers to recharge without having to hand over the phone to the customer to enter their mobile number,” it said. The customer or retailer can simply speak out the ten-digit mobile number on the device and the Google voice-enabled feature will capture the command from a distance of up to ten feet, ensuring safety for both sides.

“In order to facilitate contactless recharges, Smart Connect is now enabled with voice-based recharge feature and is available at all Vodafone Idea own stores and multi-branded stores,” it said. In India, economic and business activities are now slowly restarting outside containment zones, and partial movement has resumed within states in the third phase of the lockdown.

Earlier, while announcing the extension of nationwide lockdown till May 17, the government had issued guidelines permitting different sets of relaxations in green, red, and orange zones — thus paving the way for a staggered-exit while reopening the economy. As on early Thursday, the death toll due to coronavirus pandemic stood at 2,549 while the cases had risen to 78,003 in the country.




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