Amazon ropes in entrepreneurs, homemakers as delivery partners

Abhishek Law Kolkata | Updated on April 06, 2018

Akhil Saxena, Vice-President, Customer Fulfilment, Amazon India   -  Debasish Bhaduri

Bid to reach out to customers quickly and through the right channel

Mirakle Couriers in Mumbai sends some 15-odd hearing impaired associates in areas like Byculla and Andheri for Amazon’s delivery. Down south in Chennai, Jamuna Rani — a home-maker till recently — has become a delivery partner for Amazon armed with a set of women-only employees. In Assam’s Guwahati, Sanjukta Dutta has evolved from being a food critic to having her own courier services. After expanding to Tejpur (in Assam) in 2017, she has now started operations in the neighbouring Arunachal Pradesh.

All three are part of Amazon’s Service Partner Network in India — that has some 350 service partners in 320 cities — comprising entrepreneurs with experience in logistics and supply chain, homemakers and even NGOs. Remunerations are given on a per package basis.

As e-commerce spreads its wings in the country, e-tailer Amazon looks at a greater reach by exploring a variety of delivery options.

Last mile connectivity

According to Akhil Saxena, Vice President– India, Customer Fulfilment, Amazon India is keen to invest in infrastructure that includes transportation and logistics with an idea to ensure last mile connectivity.

So it is no surprise that apart from tie-ups with players like Blue Dart, Gati or India Post, it is leveraging services of Amazon Logistics — its logistics arm — with India-specific innovations like own delivery associates, service partner network and the ‘I have space’ program.

Across these programmes, Amazon will have its own delivery men, entrepreneurs with some experience, and a network of kirana stores, small shops merchants and local stores.

“It is all about reaching to the customer quickly with a quality offering and through the right channel,” he says adding that across cities Amazon Logisitics’ programmes and third party delivery options coexist. Today, the e-tailer delivers to nearly 97 per cent of the serviceable pin-codes in the country; and these partner programmes are helping speed-up deliveries thereby getting an edge over competition, say market sources. In fact, Amazon, they say, is creating an ecosystem by bringing together a set of existing yet disorganised infrastructure set-up.

Overseas expansion

Saxena did not share the cost incurred on these programmes or whether delivery times have actually improved. But said that the programs may be expanded.

“Going forward, we plan to expand all the three programmes. In fact, the success of these programs will be replicated in other countries too,” Saxena told BusinessLine.

In fact, India-specific innovations have made inroads into advanced economies such as the UK.

An example being the Easy Ship service, where sellers still pack their own ware, but Amazon picks it up from their premises and is then responsible for delivery.

More fulfilment centres

As it eyes a stronger foothold, Amazon India wants to add to its existing 62 fulfilment centres (warehouse), covering 16 million cubic feet of space.

The company recently set up 15 such centres to cater exclusively to Amazon Now services (a two-hour delivery option) in Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru and Delhi. All of these have come up over the last three months of 2018.

This apart, it has a network of 32 core warehouses and another 15 for large appliances.

Published on April 06, 2018

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