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Photo: iStock
Photo: iStock

Festive sales open up jobs

  • E-commerce firms have been hiring across delivery and logistics, customer service and warehousing

When Jitendra Gupta, in his late 30s, lost his job as a studio executive in a television channel in Mumbai at the start of the pandemic, he quickly discovered it was pointless knocking on the doors of other media firms—they had frozen hiring.

Instead, with a new-born in the family and mounting daily expenses, he joined the gig economy workforce—even if it meant a lower salary, a modest position and a short-term contract.

Gupta now works as a delivery executive for an e-commerce firm, benefiting from a hiring spree by online firms ahead of festive sales that start this week. Nearly six million white-collar workers, including engineers, physicians, teachers, accountants and analysts, lost their jobs between May and August, the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy said in September.

E-commerce firms, which lost a large part of their workforce during the lockdown as people returned to their hometowns, have been hiring across delivery and logistics, customer service and warehousing.

As covid pushes the needle toward digital, online festive sales are expected to touch $7 billion in gross merchandise value (GMV), leading to 300,000 new jobs, according to a recent report by consulting firm Redseer.

Daily e-commerce shipments have also grown from 3.7 million pre-covid to 5.1 million now. And this is expected to rise to 22 million in the festive season against 12 million in the 2019 festive season.

Rituparna Chakraborty, executive vice-president at staffing firm TeamLease Services, warned against the extraordinary hiring numbers put out by online firms.

“They lost a lot of people. E-commerce did feel the pinch. Depending on the city, their dependency on migrant labour is anywhere between 30-70%. These are fresh offer letters, but they are not additional jobs necessarily. It is a combination of backfills and new hires," Chakraborty said. “Such jobs are also short-term, which are not even 11-12 month contracts."

E-commerce platforms like Amazon India and Flipkart will constitute 70% of the overall hiring this season, as they kick off their festive sales this week. The new breed of gig workers post the pandemic said these jobs were the easiest to get.

“Earlier, I was earning 30,000 a month, but I couldn’t find a similar job, and my family was going through difficult times. One has to do something. This job gets me at least 10,000," said Gupta.

Kailash Kumar in Delhi, who was earlier working with a hotel as a communication supervisor, is now a packer at an e-commerce firm.

“My previous employer fired me one fine morning," said Kumar. “I needed a job immediately. So, my friend gave a number where they were hiring for online companies, and I quickly reached out. They did an interview over a video call, and I got the job. I was getting 25,000 before, and around 7,000 now," said Kumar.

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