BUSINESS

E-shops struggle with demand

DIMITRA MANIFAVA

TAGS: Economy

The electronic commerce sector in Greece has proven unable to respond to the extraordinary conditions created by the measures put in place to curb the Covid-19 epidemic.

Delivery times have doubled at best compared to the period before the restrictions were introduced, while consumer complaints – to the companies themselves, on social media, as well as to the Consumer Ombudsman – are increasing. As a result, many retail enterprises, whose brick-and-mortar stores will remain shut until April 11 at the earliest, risk missing out on offsetting their losses through online sales.

According to Panayotis Gezerlis, founder of Convert Group, which specializes in e-commerce issues, and board members at the Greek eCommerce Association (GRECA), there are problems in the three stages of the supply chain: Weaknesses have been recorded in the structure of online stores that were used to receiving and managing far fewer orders, as well as in the courier companies whose workload has multiplied, and in product imports, which due to restrictions in various countries now face delays.

Quite a few consumers, even within Attica, have had to wait more than two weeks to collect their orders from e-shops, including those belonging to very well-known chains, while major malfunctions have been observed in the system when consumers want to return a faulty product.

A similar picture is presented by online platform Skroutz, whose officials note to Kathimerini that there are often delays owing to the increased workload, mainly for courier companies. A significant factor is the size of each courier company, and the capacity of the branch in each region. “All parties involved need to show some understanding. These are extraordinary conditions. Companies need to rise to the occasion and prove they are on the side of the final consumer and their partners,” say Skroutz officials.

E-commerce sector sources report a large increase in online orders for certain home appliances, mainly fridges and freezers as well as coffee machines, and electronic games and books. In contrast, there has been a decline in smartphone orders.

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