Due to the fear of getting infected by the virus, most of them who deliver goods to the doors of consumers, are not willing to work
E-commerce sites in Bangladesh are experiencing a surge in online orders -- mainly for grocery items, over the counter medicines, and other daily essentials -- amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
However, due to the fear of getting infected by the deadly virus, most of them who deliver goods to the doors of consumers, are not willing to work.
This has resulted in a sharp decline in the number of delivery persons working for various e-commerce businesses across the country.
The shortage of delivery people has also slowed down the delivery process of these companies, said owners.
Talking to Dhaka Tribune, Sazzadul Islam Fahmy, chairman of the e-Commerce Association of Bangladesh (e-CAB), said: “Approximately 80% of our delivery people are now off-duty. This has happened because most of them left Dhaka following the recent government holidays forced by the coronavirus outbreak.
“Moreover, others are not willing to work because they are afraid that they might get infected with the deadly virus. Even their families are discouraging them to continue working as this job requires one to be outside all day and have a lot of human interaction.”
“Many of the delivery persons do not live in Dhaka. The government imposed restrictions on all modes of public transport and movement, making it difficult for them to come to work everyday.
“The volume of online orders has shot up recently but shortage of delivery people has made things very difficult,” he added.
Khawja Ashhad Belal, head of ecommerce innovation of ACI Logistics, said: “Since mid-March we have seen a 112% growth in our online orders from Shwapno (a retail brand supershop chain).
“We are using all hands on deck in this crisis. Staff members of our physical stores are delivering the online orders. We have also partnered with other delivery services including Foodpanda and Pathao to deliver products on time,” he said.
Hussain M Elius, CEO of Pathao, told Dhaka Tribune that the Pathao ride-sharing service for the time being cannot operate as per government directives.
“Those who used to share rides can now work as delivery persons for us,” he added.
“Some of the customers who have ordered online are not getting their products delivered on time because the volume of online orders has increased manifold and at the moment there are not enough resources for smooth operation of the home delivery service.”
Echoing the same, Md Abdul Wahed Tomal, general secretary of e-CAB, said: “We have instructed e-commerce owners to give protective gear such as masks and gloves to their delivery people so that they can remain uninfected from Covid-19.
“The sale of products other than groceries, medicines, and daily essentials, has plummeted drastically. Some e-commerce companies were even forced to stop their operations.”
Ashrafur Rahman, assistant manager of HR and PR at OnnoRokom Group, told Dhaka Tribune that Rokomari.com, a sister concern of the business group, is not delivering books or other items currently, and this will continue till April 4.
“It’s a direct blow to our business but nothing is more important than protecting everyone from this virus at this moment,” he said.