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E-commerce Amidst Internet Shutdown During CAA Protests

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How important is the internet for today’s generation? I guess we all know the answer as we cannot go an hour without using the internet and being connected to everyone. So imagine how hard it must be for the businesses that thrive on the internet. E-businesses are the current trend of the time. Every offline business, in today’s world, has an online portal too. In such a scenario, the internet shutdown and bans on major areas and cities are creating a lot of havoc for online businesses. They are struggling to survive in the market as their sole way of doing business is through the internet.

Amidst the protests and internet shutdown throughout the country, the cry for help by the e-businesses are silenced. App-based ride-hailing Ola and Uber suffered a lot of struggles when state government ordered a suspension of mobile internet throughout the state of Uttar Pradesh. Residents felt handicapped as they relied a lot on these cab services for their daily commute. Sadly, these businesses weren’t the only ones to suffer. Food delivery services like Zomato and Swiggy had a hard time facing the struggle too. The services were offline and people couldn’t order their meals. Along with these businesses, online app-based grocery delivery services such as Grofers and Big Basket also hit a shutdown because of the city-wide internet ban.

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Multiple hotels also recurred losses as people were unable to order from them through Zomato and Swiggy. The founder of a bakery said that they had to keep up with the orders via phone to keep the business flowing but no matter what, the businesses were hit.

Uber drivers have come to their saturation points now. They complain about their lives, the bills they have to pay, the family they have to raise and the responsibilities they have to fulfil. With internet bans throughout the major cities, the businesses are seeing great losses which are directly affecting the employees, in this case the drivers. Their livelihoods are hampered and they have absolutely nobody to blame.

The brands rely greatly on the internet and it is a huge question that how do these brands market themselves in such a crisis like this. In this situation, how much revenues do these brands suffer and who will handle the losses, it still remains unanswered? In a generation where even traditional businesses like insurance and airlines are dependent on the internet, the food aggregators and e-commerce players obviously face a lot of problems in their survival.

We must, however, note that India has one of the cheapest data tariffs in the world which has fuelled this growth in online revenues. There have been the only a handful of instances where the internet has been restricted in the national interest and to not fuel the power of the protests with wrong news or rumour. It has been done to enforce law and order and is mostly temporary in nature. In such a case, the consumer can either wait for the internet ban to be lifted or shift to offline modes. The online brands aren’t doing much about it other than believing on the certainty that this would pass but the real question still stands, that is, for how long will you wait?

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