Logistics companies have hired tens of thousands of people in recent months and plan to employ more people as the pandemic has crippled traditional sales channels and boosted demand for shipment and delivery services needed for online shopping.
Backed by COVID-19 tailwinds, third-party logistics (3PL) companies such as Ecom Express, Shadowfax, XpressBees have been on a hiring spree across functions, including delivery partners, in recent months.
“The last few months have seen a spike in growth for us, particularly in operations, and we have onboarded about 30,000 delivery partners per month. We are also expanding operations,” said Praharsh Chandra, Co-founder and Chief of Operations, Shadowfax.
It plans to onboard another 100,000 delivery partners to its network in the coming months.
Another player Ecom Express has hired over 16,000 people this year, while Xpressbees has added 4,000-5,000 people in recent months. Shiprocket has hired 62 employees in the January-March quarter, Saahil Goel, CEO and Co-founder of the company, said.
E-commerce and the direct-to-consumer (D2C) channel have been gathering steam in India amidst the pandemic as curbs make it challenging for companies to reach the consumer through the traditional offline channels.
“A significant chunk of offline retail has shifted online. While that brings growth, it also brings the challenge of maintaining the same speed and reliability in deliveries,” said Chandra of Shadowfax.
According to a recent report by consulting firm RedSeer, third-party logistics players, which currently account for 0.85 billion e-commerce shipments in the country out of overall 3 billion shipments (in 2020), are expected to fulfil 3 billion shipments by 2024.
Companies are also deepening their reach within the country as the pandemic has increased the adoption of e-commerce in tier III and beyond towns.
Saurabh Deep Singla, Executive Vice President and Chief Human Resource Officer, Ecom Express, said the company had especially stepped up hiring in tier III and IV towns amidst the second wave.
However, not all hiring is demand led. Xpressbees has hired staff as a replacement for its employees who have fallen sick.
Top e-commerce companies have expanded their workforce lately. Flipkart, for instance, inducted 23,000 employees in the last three months to keep up with the heightened demand for e-commerce services across the country. Others such as BigBasket, Grofers also have ramped up hiring in recent months.
Moreover, several companies in consumer-facing segments such as retail, FMCG, consumer durables have been taking the direct-to-consumer route as offline channels remain impacted due to lockdown and social distancing norms. Companies such as Marico, ITC, Emami, Shoppers Stop have been pushing their D2C channels in the wake of the pandemic.
Backed by this trend, e-commerce is set to gain in India. E-commerce shipments in the country, the RedSeer report says, are slated to grow four times to 12 billion by 2024.It also lists factors such as increased adoption of online platforms due to the pandemic, expansion of e-commerce to tier II and beyond cities, and growth of new segments as demand-side drivers of this surge. E-commerce is expected to grow to up to $140 billion by 2025, as per the consulting firm.