Online grocery companies BigBasket and Grofers have stepped up recruitment of delivery executives and warehouse staff to meet the surge in demand after the country went into a lockdown on account of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“With many workers staying home or going back to their villages and towns, we now require people to service this demand. This is why we are hiring delivery and warehouse personnel, and this will work two ways. We will be able to service more customers and also provide employment to those who need it the most at the moment,” Tanuja Tewari, vice president, human resources, BigBasket, said in a statement.
BigBasket is looking to hire 10,000 people for its warehouses and last mile delivery, a spokesperson for the company said in an email response to TechCircle queries. Hiring is planned across all 26 cities that the company is present in.
Online platforms that deliver groceries and other essential products and services have witnessed an unprecedented increase in demand since the start of the nationwide lockdown on March 25.
“If your company has an idling semi-skilled workforce that can do with more income + work in a safe environment, please reach out to @Grofers - we are hiring in our warehouses to increase throughout all cities..” Grofers CEO Albinder Dhindsa tweeted on Sunday to reach out to potential candidates.
If your company has idling semi-skilled work force that can do with more income + work in a safe environment, please reach out to @Grofers - we are hiring in our warehouses to increase throughout in all cities. Requirement- Smartphone savvy. Transport provided. For India!— Albinder Dhindsa (@albinder) March 29, 2020
The initial demand surge, brought about by an expected phase of panic buying, had forced several such companies to pause services temporarily while precautionary, but stringent police action crippled their operations across the country.
In less than two days, BigBasket and Grofers resumed deliveries in select cities. Horizontal ecommerce marketplaces Flipkart and Amazon are still not taking new orders as they strive to fulfil existing ones. Delivery timelines have extended to days, even weeks for all of these services.
“We have been experiencing unprecedented demand right from day one of the lockdown and had even restricted access to the website to existing customers only initially. Our teams have been working round-the-clock to tide over this issue so that customers can place orders as usual and seamlessly receive them,” BigBasket’s Tewari said.
BigBasket and Grofers have been working with local authorities in major cities to get their warehouses up and running and make e-passes available for their delivery fleets.
“We were operating at 10% of our capacity on 25th and as of yesterday (April 1), we are operating at 40% of planned capacity,” Alibaba-backed BigBasket said in a note shared on its social media pages.
The Bengaluru-based company said it has restarted operations in all of its markets, with limited slot capacities, except Kochi and Indore. It has also increased its server capacity by 50% to enable the mobile app and website to handle more traffic.
Gurugram-headquartered Grofers said it is stepping up hiring. “We are scaling up operations and induction of new delivery staff is being ramped up at our facilities,” the company said in a tweet on Thursday.
We are scaling up operations & induction of new delivery staff is being ramped up at our facilities. Rest assured we are working around the clock to service your orders better & faster.— Grofers (@Grofers) April 2, 2020
We want you to know that we're fully committed to serving you. pic.twitter.com/8qxc5B6NQh
An email sent to Grofers founder Dhindsa, seeking details of the company’s hiring plans, did not elicit an immediate response.
As per a note shared on Twitter on April 30, the SoftBank and Tiger Global backed company has restarted its delivery services in 17 cities including Delhi, Gurugram, Faridabad, Lucknow, Kanpur, Guwahati and Bengaluru.
It estimated that it will take a few more days for it to get back to 100% operational capacity.
"We are running at much lower than our 100% operational capacity as permits are required for all warehouses and passes are required for each delivery person. So far, we have got passes for around 50% of our staff and local authorities are helping us with the rest of the passes. This should take a few more days,” the note said.
Meanwhile, ride-hailing major Uber announced its entry into last mile delivery services through a partnership with BigBasket. Uber will deploy a mix of its budget service vehicles UberGo, large vehicles category UberXL and two-wheeler segment UberMoto for delivery of essential services.
“Uber is sharing its technology and vast network of delivery partners to support bigbasket in delivering essential supplies safely to consumers’ doorsteps, so they can continue to observe government guidelines for staying at home to reduce the spread of COVID-19,” the company said in a statement.
Prabhjeet Singh, director-operations and head of cities, Uber India and South Asia, said the company will not charge any commission for the service.