BENGALURU: Indian e-commerce companies are hiring delivery staff quickly out of concern that a labour shortfall will cost them business during one of the busiest shopping seasons of the year, which starts in earnest next month.
The actions complicate the prospects for the sector, which has long struggled with chronically high employee turnover, as they come amid a tightening labour market — India’s jobless rate dipped below 7% in July for the first time since January — and consistently high inflation.
“Overall demand for the gig economy has increased significantly, but the growth in the number of delivery workers does not fully reflect this.The company, sponsored by the conglomerate Tata Group, increased the number of delivery partners in its instant delivery section BB Now from 500 in the March quarter to 2,200 in the quarter that concluded in June.
By March 2023, it hopes to increase that number even more to almost 6,000. BigBasket and other e-commerce companies, like Dunzo, employ their own delivery staff, but others, like cosmetics-to-fashion shop Nykaa, rely on outside providers.
The number of people employed in gig work—of which delivery workers and salespeople make up a sizable portion—is predicted to increase to 9.9 million in India in 2022–23, an increase of roughly 45% from 2019–20.