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NEW DELHI : Online grocers are scrambling to rationalize operations two weeks into the lockdown, faced with a staff shortage amid rising demand.

Most online delivery platforms are understaffed and unable to keep pace with the orders because of the mass migration of the unorganized workers to their hometowns and villages. This has forced them to only undertake deliveries of essential products.

Online grocery store Grofers is capping multiple packages of a single pack size. It has also reduced the number of items available on its app from more than 3,500 to 600.

“At present, 70% of our warehouse staff is operational and we are hiring an additional 2,000 people from the industries that have been deeply impacted by the current crisis such as textile, manufacturing and services," said Rohit Sharma, head of supply chain, Grofers.

India’s largest online grocer Big Basket is reportedly hiring 10,000 permanent staff to clear the backlog. These people will work at warehouses and distribution centres, and as delivery personnel.

“This hiring will happen across all 26 cities that we are present in," BigBasket vice-president, human resources, Tanuja Tewari, told news agency PTI. The pressure is being felt across all cities with the challenges being higher in Tier I cities, said Tewari.

BigBasket is operating at 60% capacity because of staff shortage and is struggling to deal with large volumes of orders on its app and website.

“Building in-house capabilities at the warehouses and last-mile delivery are the two most critical elements in order fulfilment," said Sanchit Vir Gogia, chief analyst and CEO, Greyhound Research.

Snapdeal said its operations now cover essential goods and include grocery items. “We are prioritizing delivery of essentials and other deliveries will commence once the lockdown restrictions are lifted," said a Snapdeal spokesperson.

The companies are also incentivizing staff. Grofers offered a 100 per day hardship allowance to each staff member at its warehouses and extra compensation to its delivery staff.

E-commerce platform Flipkart too is mobilizing its resources and exploring several collaborations to ensure that it can continue to deliver essential supplies.

However, most online delivery and e-commerce firms are still uncertain about the situation that will prevail after the lockdown is lifted on 15 April.

Madhurima Nandy and Suneera Tandon contributed to this story.

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