E-commerce firms plan to hire more to deal with surge in online shopping

Amazon India announced plans to hire 50,000 temporary staff

Amazon rep Reuters Representational image | Reuters

With Amazon India announcing its plans to create close to 50,000 seasonal opportunities across its fulfilment and delivery network to meet customer requirements, positive signs of revival in hiring has emerged in India's ever growing e-commerce space. Announcing its hiring plans in the country, Amazon India's representative had clearly pointed out that as the nation continues to maintain social distancing to fight the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, firms like theirs will continue to provide essential services for families to get the items they need without leaving their homes. 

The hiring plans by Amazon also indicate that people are relying heavily on e-commerce firms. There is a surge in demand for online retail. It was widely predicted that businesses of e-commerce firms are likely to grow further as people would be reluctant to go to brick-and-mortar retail outlets for fear of contracting COVID-19 infection and would prefer to make online purchases.

“E-commerce in India has started witnessing an uptick as more areas are opening up for delivery. At the same time, nearly 50 per cent delivery executives and partners are not available right now. Similarly, supply chain staff is in short supply; some due to the fear of an infection and some due to migration back to their home in villages. It’s going to take about four months until many of them get back to the cities. So e-commerce companies will start looking for filling their gaps as well,” Aditya Narayan Mishra, director and CEO of CIEL HR Services, told THE WEEK.

It is believed that the shift in consumer habits of purchasing items online through e-commerce firms may stay for a long time given the convenience and surging Covid-19 cases. 

“As anxieties triggered by Covid-19 pandemic prevail across India's urban markets, not only e-commerce but all firms that are part of the value chain are expected to experience unprecedented surge. To meet the surging demand, hiring across procurement, logistics, warehousing and fulfillment are expected to rise up significantly. There's a possibility that these changes in consumer habits will not be episodic, but a permanent shift from traditional retailers to e-commerce markets,” observed Alok Shende of Ascentius Consulting, Mumbai. 

It is quite evident that e-commerce companies have made significant strategy changes to adopt to the new hygiene methods. For instance, while announcing new hiring plans, Amazon India had clearly stated that it remains committed to the health and safety of its associates, partners, employees, and customers, and has implemented a number of measures towards their well-being. The company has made close to 100 significant process changes in their operations for the safety of its people, which include mandatory covering of faces, daily temperature checks in buildings, increased frequency and intensity of cleaning at all sites, including regular sanitisation of frequently touched areas, and awareness-building among associates on safety requirements around hand-washing and hand sanitisation. 

“We want to continue helping customers all over India get everything they need so they can continue to practice social distancing. We are creating work opportunities for close to 50,000 seasonal associates across our fulfilment and delivery network. This will also keep as many people as possible working during the pandemic, while providing a safe work environment for them,” remarked Akhil Saxena, Vice President Customer Fulfilment Operations, APAC, MENA and LATAM for Amazon.

Market analysts believe that as the lockdown in the country eases more areas will be accessible to e-commerce companies. There is a likely surge in demand for home delivery and as online shopping increases, e-commerce companies will need more people, especially in their supply chain and logistics segments. With its recent foray into the food delivery segment, Amazon will need additional manpower to meet the requirements. 

Some market sources feel that as the e-commerce firms are required to revamp their processes to match the new market circumstances and standardise this surge, they should be hiring additional staff with skill sets who bring in added efficiency to the business of these e-commerce firms.

 “There should be an uptick in skill hiring, ranging from data, machine learning and Artificial Intelligence to work out the efficiencies in the prevalent work conditions. However, the recovery to the forecasted growth levels for e-commerce companies is going to take time owing to the earlier restrictions imposed on the fulfillment of non-essential products and the likely cut down on spending as well as the continuation of only the requirement-based purchases by the consumers,” remarked Rajiv M. Ranjan the CMD of PaisaDukan.com