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Offline businesses witness 'ghar wapsi' as delivery boys look to leave the likes of Flipkart, Snapdeal

Harshith Mallya
7th Jun 2016
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When e-commerce platforms run different sales, their delivery executives are forced to bear the brunt of the increased order volumes. A report by The Economic Times, states that thousands of delivery staff who were lured away from fast-food chains to ferry goods as e-commerce boomed, are now looking for jobs in brick and mortar businesses. Stretched work hours, backaches, 'sale day' pressure and fear of layoffs are among the major contributing factors for their decision.

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According to human resource service provider TeamLease, about 10,000 delivery persons who had joined online companies are keen on shifting back to companies like Domino's, McDonalds , KFC and logistics firms. Another recruitment firm told ET that many online companies like Flipkart, Snapdeal, Runnr, ShadowFax, TinyOwl and Grofers are losing their delivery executives to offline competition. Rituparna Chakraborty, Senior VP at TeamLease, said,

They want to get back to companies with reasonable working hours and less pressure on achieving numbers. They want to work in a predictable environment even if it means a compromise on fixed pay.

What has changed?

While the Indian startup ecosystem witnessed unprecedented growth and funding in in 2014 and 2015, investors have now become hyper-cautious in 2016 and funds are drying up for some players.

Till about six months ago, a few online delivery companies were paying about Rs 30,000 a month along with incentives. Lured by the pay and possibly unaware of the downsides, many delivery executives had jumped ship to join e-commerce companies. Arjun Singh, founder of Gurgaon-based tech startup LogiMonkey, who recently hired a few of these delivery men, told ET,

Now, with the VC money drying up, delivery boys are making only Rs 300-400 per day.

The Indian Staffing Federation estimates the number of people working as delivery staff at 75,000. Executives at Jubilant FoodWorks, which owns the franchise for Domino's Pizza and Dunkin' Donuts in India, told ET that close to 500 delivery persons who had left the company for online firms now want to come back. "In Mumbai, those who had rejoined said backache (from lifting heavy bags) was the key trigger for their exit, while in south India, delivery boys and their managers who had left us want to join back as they found the frequent big (sale) days a challenge," said Biplob Banerjee, HR at Jubilant FoodWorks to ET.

KFC on the other hand not only has applications from former employees but also from online firms' staff who have not worked with the chain before. "This is a definite trend. We have ex-employees coming back as well as people with ecommerce backgrounds interested in working with us." said Aman Lal, chief people officer at KFC India.

While joining brick and mortar stores may further lower compensation, fast-food companies including KFC offer meals and energy drinks to employees. "In addition to health and life insurance, the riders get additional road accident coverage," Aman said to ET.

Number of deliveries are also monitored at offline delivery fast-food chains to reduce stress. "With no leave, our old employees realised there was hardly any time for themselves," said Biplob.

In the meantime, e-commerce companies may have to figure out other means to optimise delivery with smaller fleet sizes or fast-forward their plans to utilise fleets of drones or droids for deliveries.

Will we see 'ghar wapsi' in other sectors?

Different sectors go through their up and down cycles and the markets react accordingly. Currently with large influx of funds in the radio cab market, we are seeing a large volume of executives sign up with Ola and Uber in India. They are mainly driven by flexible work hours and incentives. But if and when the incentives dry up, the drivers compensation gets reduced and they need to work longer hours to get their desired pay, we may see drivers going off the taxi cab grid too.

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