For Mumbai-based Hey Deedee, an all-women last-mile delivery startup, it has been an intense last six months. The four-year-old company—which acts as a logistics partner for larger firms such as Amazon, Flipkart, Ekart, Nature’s Basket, and Pizza Hut—had to shut operations in a few cities hit by the Covid-19 pandemic.
But despite the hiccups, Hey Deedee founder and CEO Revathi Roy says her firm hired “more people and gave jobs to at least 100 women” in the cities it was operational in during the lockdown. Her team of 45 in Mumbai clocked 120-130 parcel deliveries a day in March and April, when e-commerce firms were allowed to deliver only essential items. “On a normal day, each delivery agent does about 70 parcels but during the lockdown it went up exponentially. Then, our delivery agents earned 35,000-40,000 a month,” Roy tells Fortune India. According to staffing firms, delivery agents earn 15,000-25,000 a month on an average, without incentives.
While the lockdown gave a temporary boost to e-commerce, the continuing side effects of the pandemic—such as restricted mobility—have given it a fresh impetus. A recent report by research and advisory firm RedSeer Consulting says India’s e-commerce sector is expected to clock $38 billion in sales in calendar year 2020, a jump of 40% over CY2019. E-commerce was an important component of the warehousing sector even before the pandemic, and Covid-19 seems to have given it a fillip, says a recent report by Knight Frank, a real estate consultancy firm.
“In the current market, delivery agents and warehouse executives are definitely in demand,” says Rituparna Chakraborty, co-founder and executive vice president, TeamLease Services, a staffing firm. Companies need people with basic knowledge of English and comprehensive ability. “Someone with a two-wheeler can easily get a job as a delivery agent. For jobs at the warehouse, there is no such specific prerequisite. You just need to work hard,” she says.
The demand for talent is also led by festive season sales. In September, Walmart-owned Flipkart said it expects to create 70,000 direct jobs across its supply chain operations to manage festive season demand and its Big Billion Days sale event. Rival Amazon India aims to hire about 20,000 seasonal workers for its delivery and supply chain division, reports say. In early October, logistics firm Delhivery said it expects to generate over 15,000 jobs, mostly seasonal, across its supply chain operations.
The RedSeer report says hyperlocal shipments will grow by 250% over CY2019, driven by omni-channel initiatives of organised brick-and-mortar retailers, coupled with e-groceries. The e-commerce and logistics sectors are expected to generate about 300,000 permanent and temporary jobs during the festive season, it adds.
Looking at the larger picture, Chakraborty agrees. “In the next two quarters, if there is one job which will always be around, it would be that of a delivery agent or a warehouse executive,” she says.