India’s leading online grocer BigBasket plans to hire 10,000 permanent on-ground staff to work at warehouses, distribution centres and as delivery personnel, over the next few days.
Its rival brand Grofers also plans to recruit 2,000 additional workers, to serve a massive demand surge caused by the nationwide lockdown due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Commenting on the labour shortage BigBasket co-founder & CEO Hari Menon said, “We invested heavily on (infrastructure) last year and have enough capacity for the next 18 months at least but workforce is a problem right now."
E-commerce companies have been facing a major manpower shortage, as migrant workers have returned to their native places, amid the virus outbreak. SoftBank-backed Grofers said it is hiring workers for its warehouses, while Flipkart and Amazon have offered to double payments to temporary staff.
“Many workers staying home or going back to their villages and towns, we now require people.This is why we are hiring delivery and warehouse personnel,” said Tanuja Tewari, Vice President-Human Resources at BigBasket.
To be sure, online retailers such as BigBasket, Grofers, Amazon and Flipkart have solved issues around on-ground staff movement in at least the top 30 cities. They are, however, struggling to find staff to pick and sort orders at their warehouses and hubs, as well as partners for last-mile deliveries.All these companies say they are now equipped to service higher demand since they have sorted supply-side constraints.
Commenting on the current labour force Rohit Sharma, Head of Supply Chain,Grofers said, “Currently, 65% of our warehouse staff is operational and we are hiring an additional 2,000 people from industries that have been deeply impacted by the current crisis, such as textiles, manufacturing and services,”
Some workers are not being allowed to enter homes due to the fear that the virus will spread which has made a lot of them with two options, to either quit their jobs or sleep inside stores, which are not sustainable outcomes.
BigBasket is operating at 40% capacity due to staff shortage, while Grofers said it is running with only 65% staff currently. However,ore orders can be delivered if the issue is solved as capacity expansion and procurement from vendors are not a constraint.
BigBasket, according to Menon, is servicing 90,000 orders a day compared to 160,000 orders prior to the lockdown.
Large-format offline retailers are also hiring more workers. Spencer's Retail and Nature’s Basket, for instance, have been conducting virtual interviews to hire store and delivery staff. Reliance Retail is relocating available workers in formats like fashion and consumer electronics into food and grocery stores.