Amazon to stop non-essential sales in India

FILE PHOTO: Amazon logo is seen in front of diplayed coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in this illustration taken March 19, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo/File Photo

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Inc's AMZN.O India unit on Tuesday said it will halt orders for non-essential products in India to prioritize customers' critical needs at a time when much of the country is under lockdown to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

The decision by the Seattle-based Amazon’s India unit follows a similar move to stop shipping non-essential products to consumers in Italy and France, countries hit hard by the virus outbreak.

Amazon India will prioritize the sale and delivery of household staples, packaged foods, healthcare, hygiene and personal safety products, the company said in a blog post.

The company said it was seeing a surge in demand for essential good and services, adding that it was giving customers the option to cancel undelivered orders for lower-priority products and get refunds.

Amazon did not give a timeline for the resumption of normal operations.

India’s lockdown of several cities has disrupted deliveries by e-commerce firms and online grocers.

Walmart Inc's WMT.N Flipkart, Amazon's main rival in India, said it was extending delivery timelines in the light of disruptions in several states.

To enable millions of Indians working from home to access household supplies, the federal technology ministry on Tuesday advised state governments to allow e-commerce services to operate, especially with respect to essential items.

Reporting by Sankalp Phartiyal; editing by Jason Neely and Philippa Fletcher