Home / Industry / Retail /  E-commerce festive hiring rescues jobless white-collar workers

BENGALURU : When Jitendra Gupta lost his job with a television firm in Mumbai amidst the pandemic, he tried for a similar position in other media companies. With a freeze on hiring activity across industry, and a new-born child in the family, it became tough for him to manage even daily expenses.

Like many of his peers, he joined the gig economy workforce. Gupta now works as a delivery executive for an e-commerce firm, as online companies are on a hiring spree ahead of the festive season.

E-commerce firms have come to the rescue for many, as they hire across delivery and logistics, with demand also led by customer service and warehousing functions.

With covid-19 pandemic pushing the needle on digital, online festive sales are expected to touch $7 billion in gross merchandise value (GMV), as shoppers flock online, leading to creation of 3 lakh jobs, says a recent report by consulting firm Redseer.

Daily e-commerce shipments in the country have also grown from 3.7 million during the pre-covid months to 5.1 million, post the virus outbreak. This is expected to rise to 22 million daily shipments during the festive season. Last festive season, daily e-commerce shipments averaged at around 12 million.

For those like Gupta, who were in desk jobs earlier, gig jobs have been a lifesaver even if the pay is lesser.

“All the workers who were laid off from other jobs have become available for e-commerce jobs over a period of time," said Rituparna Chakraborty, labour expert and executive vice-president at TeamLease Services.

“There’s no point sitting at home. Anyone who earns between minimum wages to 25000 is very modest wages… even people earning higher also cannot afford to have five months of unemployment. All these jobs are also short-term, which are not even an 11-12 month contract, and last two-three months. So are they going to hang around for a long time, I don’t think so," Chakraborty added.

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 cited that these jobs were the easiest to get in the current scenario.

“Earlier, I was earning 30,000 a month but I couldn’t find a similar job and my family was going through difficult times. Kuch toh karna padta hai na (have to do something, right?). 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 an immediate job. 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 25000 before, and around 7000 now," said Kumar.

“To specifically meet the festive demands, we will be organizing India’s first and the biggest job fest to offer 30,000 plus mix-collared jobs to gig workers within 12 hours on 23rd, 24th and 25th October," said Annanya Sarthak, Co-founder, Awign, a staffing firm.

“The demands are largely around last mile delivery, process and warehouse auditing and even transcription requirements from e-food delivery giants like Swiggy, Zomato, etc, which sees a surge in business owing to IPL season," Sarthak said.

“Nearly 80% of the training has moved online. There are videos that are made for simple processes which usually do not require Q&A. 15% requires Q&A and is usually delivered through an online instructor-led training session over Google Meet or Zoom. Only in 5% cases, physical training is needed," said Chirag Mittal, co-founder and CEO of staffing firm GigForce.

Teamlease’s Chakraborty warned against the extraordinary hiring numbers put out in the market by online firms.

“They lost a lot of people. Ecommerce did feel the pinch, largely on account of regulations and stipulations of the lockdown. Then the migrant population vanished; depending upon which city, their dependency on migrant labour is anywhere between 30-70%. So, these are fresh offer letters, but they are not additional jobs necessarily. It is a combination of backfills and new hires," she added.

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