Covid crushes e-commerce

Good morning,

E-commerce companies made hay in 2020 as folks grappled with the primary wave of the pandemic. Many of us fired up apps on our smartphones and positioned orders for necessities as brick-and-mortar retailers had been shuttered amid the nationwide lockdown. But the story is solely totally different in 2021.

Also on this letter:

  • Is Bitcoin in a bear market now?
  • No walk-ins till vaccine provide meets demand, says prime official
  • Mental well being professionals undergo burnout amid second wave

How the second wave sunk e-commerce

Hi, it is Digbijay. E-commerce companies had been arguably the most important beneficiaries throughout and after the nationwide lockdown final 12 months. The solely fly within the ointment was the federal government’s flip-flops on what constituted “essential” and “non-essential” items, however as soon as the lockdown was lifted and sale of all items had been allowed, gross sales went by way of the roof.

This was on account of a number of components: the necessity for work-from-home equipment, dwelling and kitchen items and, finally, the pent-up demand from shoppers for every kind of merchandise after being locked down for weeks.

Cut to 2021, and it’s a unique world altogether. The second wave of the pandemic has hit everybody onerous and e-commerce, not like final 12 months, has not been spared. The second wave has brought about misery within the broader economic system and the sheer scale of an infection this time has depressed client sentiment.

An ecommerce govt stated, “When you are looking to buy an oxygen concentrator desperately, you won’t care for a t-shirt or any other item, which can wait. You are not in that mindspace.” This has mirrored in on-line purchasing, although it stays safer than visiting your native retailer.

E-commerce order volumes are down by 11% in April in comparison with March, knowledge from Unicommerce confirmed. It’s potential that the speed of fall will likely be larger by the top of May.

No crystal ball: Top executives in e-commerce and logistics companies can’t predict how the present and subsequent quarter will appear to be however some are hopeful. T A Krishnan, co-founder and CEO of Ecom Express, a logistics agency, advised me he expects folks to proceed avoiding malls and offline shops even as soon as issues stabilise, and that may assist on-line purchasing.

This time round, the virus has unfold deep contained in the nation. Though ecommerce progress is pushed by the highest 8-10 cities in India, tier-II and tier III cities, and rural areas, are additionally necessary. Urban shoppers would nonetheless purchase necessities on-line however different classes like style and electronics type a bigger chunk of whole gross sales for each Flipkart and Amazon India.


If these markets are additionally depressed, it might have a noticeable impression on progress of the sector this 12 months. Arpit Mathur, a accomplice at Kearney, says e-commerce’s annual progress this 12 months might fall to 15-20% from 30% final 12 months if the agricultural markets come beneath strain for an extended interval. For now, it’s onerous to inform, as Ecom’s Krishnan stated he’s seeing demand holding up in non-metro markets for his agency.

Fashion and equipment appear to be the worst-hit section, going by trade anecdotes and knowledge on ecommerce gross sales. Top segments like smartphones, electronics and home equipment are both seeing flat gross sales or muted progress. What occurs in the remainder of the present quarter will likely be essential as shoppers and ecommerce firms are pinning their hopes on states easing norms on deliveries and a few type of normalcy to return.

For now, these companies are additionally attempting to vaccinate their employees and supply fleet shortly, to allow them to proceed going out to ship necessities with out worry of the virus. The tempo of vaccinations will play a key function in restoring client confidence and boosting restoration, say trade executives.

Also Read: Manpower crunch brings better pay for delivery staff

For extra on the ever-changing crypto world, I’ll go it onto my colleague Zaheer.

Is Bitcoin in a bear market now?


Fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) took hold of Indian investors in crypto assets on Wednesday as Bitcoin posted its largest single day fall in almost a 12 months.

In the previous week, different world crypto property equivalent to Ethereum and Binance’s token additionally plunged by as a lot as 25% and 33% respectively.

According to, almost 50% of the complete crypto sector’s market capitalisation has been wiped off between May 13 and May 20.

Big image: But chief executives of Indian crypto exchanges stated it was too quickly to attract conclusions on Bitcoin’s future and whether or not the bigger crypto trade was within the grip of bears.

According to crypto trade insiders, a correction had lengthy been overdue, and some worldwide establishments had liquidated their Bitcoin positions in latest weeks as costs reached unrealistic ranges.

“If you assess the fundamentals, re-correction was anyway on the cards. Unfortunately, new entrants weren’t aware of this and they are going to always curse the market after getting their hands burnt,” stated Akshay Aggarwal, the founding father of Blockchained India.

Nischal Shetty, founder and CEO of Wazirx, added that the following week or two “will make it clearer if this is Bitcoin’s bottom or whether it will test new lows.”

“Should I buy crypto instead of gold?” Meanwhile, monetary advisors and wealth managers have been peppered with questions about Bitcoin and different cryptos over the previous few days.

But regardless of the massive demand, many should not certain whether or not giving recommendation about cryptocurrency buying and selling is permitted by the Securities and Exchange Board of India.

The capital markets regulator’s uncommon silence on cryptocurrency implies that numerous advisory companies and attorneys have been decoding the principles in numerous methods.

The nice leveller: In most circumstances, they draw back from providing formal steering to purchasers. This means even high-profile traders are left with the identical supply of data as school college students or younger professionals – the great outdated web.

Indian crypto on skinny ice: Paytm Payments Bank will not allow users to buy and sell crypto assets by way of its platform from Friday night, when it is going to cease coping with cryptocurrency exchanges, sources advised us.

Its rival PayPal and different cost processing firms may additionally pull the plug, they stated.

Recap: Most main banks had earlier this week severed relationships with cryptocurrency exchanges equivalent to WazirX, BuyUCoin and Zebpay, after the Reserve Bank of India informally advised them to rethink their ties with them.


Follow @ETtech for all of the breaking information, insights and good evaluation on the enterprise of expertise and startups from the newsroom of The Economic Times.

No walk-ins till vaccine provide meets demand’

The centre could allow all adults in rural areas to walk in for vaccinations, however solely as soon as the availability of vaccines “satisfies” the demand, a prime official advised us.

Responding to mounting criticism that the federal government’s vaccine platform CoWin excludes folks in rural areas and those that should not tech savvy, RS Sharma, chairperson of the empowered committee for administration of Covid-19 vaccine stated, “I want to do it (allow walk-ins for this section of the country’s population) but I cannot do it right now.”

“What is the guarantee that if we allow walk-ins in rural areas, people from the cities will not surround those areas?” he stated.

Currently, 57% of Indians who’ve been vaccinated have been walk-ins, in keeping with Sharma, who stated “the issue is with vaccine availability, not CoWin”.

Digital divide: The CoWin platform has come beneath heavy criticism previously few weeks, with residents complaining that it’s resulting in a vaccine divide as solely the literate and tech-savvy are in a position to guide slots on the platform, leaving these in rural areas in addition to the city poor within the lurch.

Quote: “Only 40% of Indians have access to the Internet and smartphones, and India suffers from a lack of digital literacy, especially in rural areas. A significant number of people neither have the knowledge nor proper infrastructure to use the app,” stated Mishi Choudhary, authorized director of Software Freedom Law Centre, New York.

Mental well being professionals undergo burnout amid second wave

mental health professionals

As frontline healthcare staff grapple with lack of life on an hourly foundation, psychological well being professionals throughout the nation are coping with the impression of these deaths, one session at a time. And it has started to take a toll on them.

Over the previous week, we spoke to over 30 psychological well being professionals from 21 cities throughout India, masking marginalised communities and areas worst-hit by the pandemic.

Here’s what we discovered: Therapists throughout the nation are experiencing an excessive sense of helplessness and burnout, with many having to cut back their work hours due to sheer psychological exhaustion. Some have taken lengthy, unplanned breaks, whereas a number of have even dropped out of the occupation.

The caseload has gone up by 30% to 40% for a majority of therapists, with older purchasers relapsing at the same time as they refuse to tackle new ones.

“I don’t know a single therapist who isn’t overworked and overbooked right now,” says Mimansa Popat, a Mumbai-based psychotherapist and particular educator with over 25 years of expertise.

Tech isn’t at all times the reply: The pressured tech intervention into what has at all times been a face-to-face occupation could have widened entry to remedy tremendously this 12 months, however has additionally been exhausting to adapt to.

“I used to do six sessions a day (in person) but can’t do more than four sessions online,” says Alaokika Motwane, a psychologist from Mumbai with 15 years of expertise. “My eyes start watering if I stare at a screen for so long.”

There’s additionally a level of awkwardness with a shopper speaking about their grief, crying whereas holding the telephone of their hand and watching themselves cry, notes Medha Gupta, consulting medical psychologist from Hyderabad. “I often tell them to switch their video off in such cases.”


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ETtech Done Deals

■ Android DevOps platform Esper has raised $30 million in Series B funding, led by Scale Venture Partners. This brings Esper’s whole funding to $40.6 million, following a $7.6 million Series A fundraise in February 2020.

■ Wysa, an AI-powered psychological well being app, has picked up $5.5 million in a Series A funding spherical led by Boston-based digital well being traders W Health Ventures. Existing traders Google Assistant, Pi Ventures and Kae Capital additionally participated within the spherical, together with a clutch of family-owned companies.

■ Aerospace startup Skyroot Aerospace has secured $11 million in a Series A funding spherical led by Greenko Group promoters Anil Chalamalasetty and Mahesh Kolli, who will now be a part of the startup’s board of administrators.

■ Magenta EV Solutions has raised over $15 million from Kiran C. Patel, an Indian-American philanthropist, heart specialist and entrepreneur, as a part of a Series A funding spherical.

■ Bengaluru-based proptech startup BricSpaces has received $350,000 in a pre-seed round, which noticed participation of iinvestors together with Freshworks co-founder Shan Krishnasamy, Bharat Kapoor of 50K Ventures and Eeva developer Vishal together with different angel traders.

Twitter is making its blue tick out there to everybodyTwitter is relaunching its verification service to offer it extra “transparency, credibility and clarity”.

  • The firm had halted the verification characteristic pending a assessment of its insurance policies.

What’s new? The platform has now shaped six classes of people that will get the verification tag, supplied they meet the corporate’s standards. These will embrace folks from authorities, firms, manufacturers and organisations, information organisations, leisure, sports activities and gaming, activists, organisers, and different influential people. Twitter stated it was additionally working so as to add classes for scientists, academicians and spiritual leaders.

How to use? People who wish to be verified will have the ability to apply for it from inside the account settings tab within the app.

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Snap India’s every day consumer base jumps: Snapchat has witnessed over 100% year-over-year progress in every day energetic customers (DAUs) in every of the final 5 quarters, Snap Inc. chief govt Evan Spiegel stated on the firm’s annual accomplice summit held nearly on Thursday.

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Nasscom says govt can faucet trade if vaccine funds is an issue: The authorities can tap the industry if it lacks the funds to procure Covid-19 vaccines, India’s expertise leaders advised ET, including that the technique should be to vaccinate its inhabitants on precedence.

Netflix India head of authentic movies Srishti Arya quits: Even as Netflix is “still figuring out India”, as admitted by co-founder and co-CEO Reed Hastings final month, the worldwide streaming large continues to see senior-level exits within the nation. Latest to stop the corporate is Srishti Behl Arya, director-original movies for India, who had joined the corporate in May 2018 and was instrumental in green-lighting over 35 authentic movies during the last three years.

Global Picks We Are Reading

■ Crypto Platform Kraken Adds Tribe Capital’s Sethi to Its Board (Bloomberg)

■ Timeline: ByteDance founder who put TikTok on world map to stop as CEO (Reuters)

■ Google to open its first everlasting retail retailer this summer time in New York City (WSJ)

Today’s ETtech Morning Dispatch was curated by Zaheer Merchant and Karan Dhar in Mumbai

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