Here's how ecommerce giant Flipkart is innovating to keep coronavirus at bay

Flipkart employees have come up with simple and innovative products that are being deployed to maintain hygiene at their workplaces.
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The proverb ‘necessity is the mother of invention’ holds very true in the times of coronavirus. The coronavirus pandemic is calling for different hygiene measures across organisations as both employers and employees are concerned about how the virus may spread through the workplace.

During such difficult times, India’s leading ecommerce marketplace, Flipkart, is constantly undertaking strong hygiene measures to safeguard its employees against the global pandemic.

The Bengaluru-based online retailer has come up with simple yet effective inventions, where the core focus is to maintain high standards of hygiene.

The nationwide lockdown imposed since March 25 to control the spread of coronavirus has bought the country to a halt, but the movement of essential goods and people to deliver items was required. In such an environment, employees of Flipkart, especially those at the critical supply chain department, came up with simple inventions to solve some of the pressing issues at their workplace.

Contactless devices

Take for example the mobile touchless hand sanitising dispenser developed by Flipkart employees. According to Flipkart, in order to improve sanitisation efforts at every level, employees at one of its fulfilment centre developed a touchless hand sanitising device, which can be operated with foot, with locally available PVC pipes in a matter of three hours.

While the device was not mobile initially, the employees soon realised the necessity and quickly made changes in the existing design to make it moveable. The device was then emulated across Flipkart’s fulfilment centres.

While there are already many sensor-led dispensers available, which can perform the same function, Flipkart says that procuring such devices in large numbers and in a short period of time was time consuming, and one is also not sure of its availability or means to transport them in the ongoing period of lockdown.

Similarly, at its supply chain centre in Farrukhnagar, Haryana, Flipkart employees developed a foot operating water dispenser, which was again a touchless innovation. All it took was integrating PVC with existing electronic water dispensers.

According to Flipkart, this device was developed in just two hours, and is now being replicated at its fulfilment centres across the country.

Safety first

Ever since the COVID-19 lockdown was announced, all the warehouse and delivery personnel of Flipkart have been adhering to the government and world health organisation (WHO) guidelines on safety hygiene standards during deliveries and in the whole supply chain.

As ecommerce companies manage a wide supply chain and logistics network, which involves a large number of people, it becomes imperative for them to maintain the highest safety standards.

According to Flipkart, it has organised more than 3,000 awareness sessions, covering over 100,000 employees across all its facilities on how they can minimise their exposure through certain precautionary measures.

Some of the measures include temperature screening, cleaning of surfaces, deep fumigation, availability of anti-bacterial soap and sanitiser, frequent sanitisation of surfaces at entry points, trolley handles, lift switches, doorknobs, etc.

Apart from these innovations during the time of coronavirus, Flipkart has also been following many other safety measures like facemask dispenser, dust spillage collector, thermal screen cabin, etc. These were all developed by the employees at the supply chain function, and all it took was a few hours to develop and deploy.

Such innovations at Flipkart displays the flexible approach to problem solving by using limited resources or whatever is available at their disposal.

According to Flipkart, it has been fostering a culture of innovation within the organisation, and is not restricted to the technology aspect alone. The above mentioned examples of innovation can be best termed as the ones which have evolved at the grass-root level.

Apart from these, one of the delivery personnel at Flipkart has developed an electric two-wheeler entirely on his own. A furniture technician without any knowledge of automobile, he developed the electric two-wheeler to primarily cut down on his fuel costs.

Ensuring job safety

In such extraordinary times, there is anxiety everywhere about almost everything - be it health, safety, jobs, and finances. But Flipkart has assured its employees that it will not slash salaries and will honour the job offers extended.

“A crisis is a great time to show your statesmanship, commitment, and character. This is the time to contribute to nation building...We are honouring all commitments, campus placements, and also looking at innovative ways of virtual inductions and onboarding," said Kalyan Krishnamurthy, Group CEO, Flipkart.

As the government slowly brings down the coronavirus lockdown restrictions, the economic activity is expected to pick up over a period of time. This would also mean the pace of business transactions at Flipkart are expected to rise. But what will keep them safe is the innovative spirit of employees.

Edited by Megha Reddy


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