Ecommerce Delivery Boys Would Not Remain Delivery Boys Anymore


Few days back I was pleasantly surprised to see someone with blue knapsack on his back and “Ecom Express” written on it, riding the bike on the dusty roads of my village in Madhubani district of Bihar, near to Nepal border and around 200 Kilometers away from state capital Patna.

I know for the fact that e-commerce is rapidly reaching out to every nook and corner of the country, but I was considering it still an urban and semi-urban phenomenon but thankfully my unfounded perception got corrected.

Courier business is still a semi-skilled low paying hard labor job, which involves carrying huge knapsacks filled with merchandise and riding bikes, earlier it was riding bicycle. It needs to change now and change for good before it becomes one of biggest bottleneck for the growth of e-commerce in India. Despite all the hype around AI, assortment, merchandise mix and marketing, e-commerce’s success boils down on completion of the transaction which means delivery of merchandise to end consumer, collection of payment and repatriation of collected amount to company’s account. If this last part is not good, note worthy, pleasant and successful then entire operation done before it is a big failure. Different estimates put India’s e-commerce retail sales in the bracket of USD 30-35 Billion in 2017 and expect it to grow to USD 200 Billion by 2016.

So, one can imagine how much pressure will be the team which has to make the final closure of the deal. So, the person who brings your merchandise to your home is no more a delivery boy of erstwhile courier era. Now he is a salesman, a cashier an accountant and the storekeeper; not only he brings your order to you, but collects the cash and maintains the account of collected cash as well. And completion of transaction and satisfaction of consumer out of completed transaction depends on him only.

Two years back, I had purchased a mobile phone from a leading e-commerce site which was to be delivered at Madhubani district. Delivery boy asked me to give him tip of Rs.100/- because I had made a purchase of Rs.15,000/- and I should be feeling happy about it. Moreover I had to literally make several calls to him to deliver the mobile phone which I was excited to hold in my hands. His insistence for the tip annoyed me and I had decided then to report the incidence to the retailer. Somehow I forgot to write to the retailer but I didn’t purchase anything from them for almost a year. We all must have seen few incidences of wrong/damaged product or sometime brick/stone/soap reaching to customers. So, goodwill of any e-commerce company depends on their tail of the value chain, the “delivery boys”, as they are popularly known.

So, the companies should:

1)Treat them as salesman, not the delivery boy
2)Train them as salesman, cashier, accountant and marketer
3)Use them for up selling with digital devices in their hand ( He is the person who can drop a hint about matching product or any product complementing the purchase or what the community is buying to the buyer and his recommendation will carry more value than the online recommendation).

Rest everything can be automated. AI can do the merchandising, Natural Language Generators can write tag lines and blogs, programmed drones can take pictures which can be directly collected from them, so on and so forth.

Now, time has come to see the role of delivery boys in different light, in shinier and brighter light. They are most crucial part of value chain of an e-commerce company and they will remain so for long because now customers have become very demanding and will not accept any inefficiency in any of the operation.

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