Closely watching events in India, says Amazon

Amazon is closely watching developments in India, which is grappling with a deadly surge in coronavirus infections.

“We are watching events closely in Europe and in particular, India, where we have put in place employee initiatives from medical health lines, teleconsulting, hotel rooms for quarantining and financial support, as well as donating 100 ICU ventilator units to local hospitals,” Brian Olsavsky, chief financial officer and SVP at the Seattle-based e-commerce firm said at the company’s Q12021 earnings call on Thursday.

A clutch of Indian states have imposed mini lockdowns and weekend and night curfews to tame the spike in cases. In some markets, including Maharashtra, Delhi, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, e-commerce companies are allowed to deliver only essentials. Essentials typically include food, grocery items and medical supplies.

Non-essentials, particularly smartphones, electronic items and consumer durables, drive the major chunk of business for e-commerce firms like Flipkart and Amazon, who jointly command the biggest share of the local e-commerce market. Disallowing delivery of non-essentials also hits the business of sellers registered on the marketplaces, many of whom happen to be small and medium entrepreneurs.

E-commerce companies have been urging authorities to allow delivery of all products saying that there cannot be set norms to demarcate essentials and non-essentials. In general, deliveries are getting delayed due to the restrictions.

In Q12020, Amazon’s international business had booked huge losses led by the nationwide lockdown in India that limited operation of e-commerce firms to delivery of essentials.

Amazon has joined other big tech companies to support India as it battles the second wave of Covid-19. The company has partnered with ACT Grants, Temasek Foundation, Pune Platform for Covid-19 Response, and other partners to airlift over 8,000 oxygen concentrators and 500 BiPAP machines from Singapore. Amazon India has procured 100 ventilators through its global resources to immediately import into India. It has also undertaken measures to help its employees in the country.

“We will continue to invest in the health and safety of our employees and delivery partners, particularly in our global fulfilment and logistics operations,” the Olsavsky said.

Amazon’s international segment reported net sales of $30.64 billion in the January-March quarter, almost 60% higher than total sales of $19.10 billion posted in Q12020. The segment recorded profits of $1.2 billion in Q12021, reversing losses of $398 million posted in the year-ago period. Financial Express

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