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It is a common sight to spot a delivery boy with a huge bag on his back as he drives down to deliver products from the warehouses of e-commerce companies to offices and residences.

The rapid growth in e-commerce has paved the way for many specialized logistics firms in the country. The sector currently employs more than 100,000 delivery boys and has witnessed a 200-300% jump over last year’s numbers. Growth is anticipated to be similar this year.

The field is largely dominated by men (anywhere between 18 and 28 years of age), who spend eight to nine hours in the field and earn Rs10,000 to Rs15,000 per month. Performance incentives could add another Rs1,000-2,000, depending, on the company that employs them.

Sachin, who works with Nuvoex Logistics Pvt. Ltd, a reverse logistics service provider, says his basic job is to collect products that people want to return and then deposit them at his office. On the day we met him in Delhi, he was headed from Connaught Place to Paharganj, then Daryaganj. “I usually cover 80-90km per day on my bike and on some days visit as many as 30 customers to take stuff they want to return," he says, adding that his bag does weighs up to 9kg in a day. “People mostly want to return clothes, bags, shoes," he says. Sachin’s salary is about Rs12,000 and he gets about Rs9,000 in hand after deductions for provident fund and income tax. Jaswinder Singh, 21, who has been working for Amazon, says he joined the company six months ago as a “fresher". Singh says his backpack goes up to 20kg, almost 11kg more than what Sachin carries, but that may be because Sachin’s job profile is different.

Like Sachin, Singh too manages to visit at least 30 customers in a day. “Sometimes, we can do more too, but how many you do in a day depends on your capacity, really," he adds.

While some e-commerce companies have in-house teams taking charge of last-mile delivery, these services are largely outsourced to logistics providers such as Blue Dart, Delhivery, Ecom Express, Gojavas, Aramex and Dotzot. For instance, India’s largest e-commerce company, Flipkart, has its own logistics services—eKart. However, the company uses third-party services too. Amazon, on the other hand, largely relies on its own delivery boys to fulfil shipments and collect cash.

Mohit Tandon, co-founder and chief strategy officer at Delhivery, says in an email interview that his company handles more than 3 million transactions monthly and operates in more than 200 cities. “We have about 10,000 delivery boys who are given training at handling processes, customers and field devices. Training is provided internally as well as through partners," he says. At Delhivery, the minimum skills required to get hired as a delivery boy is “the ability to read and understand English and fluency in the local language. Field staff need to own two-wheelers".

Basic mathematics comes in handy too, as they have to deal with a lot of cash collection on any given day.

The delivery boys are usually not on the payrolls of logistics or e-commerce companies, but are outsourced from staffing companies such as Teamlease, Success Management and Randstand. However, some companies, such as Ecom Express, prefer to employ delivery boys to avoid high attrition rates. The sector witnesses a massive churn—as high as 20-30% per year, according to staffing company Teamlease. However, these numbers tend to be low in the so-called tier-II and tier-III markets.

Even though the logistics companies offer social security, medical benefits and other incentives, the job is not an aspirational one, explains Rituparna Chakraborty, co-founder at Teamlease. However, she adds that this is quite an attractive opportunity for youngsters who have just completed high school or an undergraduate course because of the instant recognition they get from being associated with brands such as Flipkart or Amazon.

Pradeep Gaur contributed to this story.

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