Bom H', 'Bom R' and 'BomS' are not the names of agents in a Hollywood spy movie but simply how 26-year-old Shamsher Shaikh's seniors identify the neighbourhoods of Ghatkopar, Bhandup and Goregaon. Mahimbased Shaikh, who became a delivery man for a leading ecommerce firm+ recently, is still too new to start calling his workspace 'Bom O' -- the official demarcation for the roads of Marol on which his second-hand scooter has done so many rounds that it feels like an extension of him.
Soon after joining, his rickety Activa had capitulated to Mumbai's rain and the delivery-bag-to ting Shaikh had to drag it to a mechanic and then to around 20 addresses waiting for their orders. The deal ended up extending his eight-hour workday by two hours and pushing his dinner to 1.30am. Yet, this father of two isn't complaining.
Like hundreds in the country, Shaikh is the beneficiary of a happy logistical problem. Every year before Diwali, when e-tailers gear up to meet the spike in demand that follows festive season discounts, men like Shaikh end up getting not only a temporary job but also unprecedented perks. Diwali's e-retail boom+ is seeing a spurt in tempo rary jobs and unusual perks for blue collar workers.
Compared to Shamsher Shaikh's earlier gigs - delivering ironed clothes for a professional laundry service for Rs 9,000 a month and towing vehicles for a Malad police chowky for Rs 350 a day - Shaikh can hope to fetch not only a monthly standard of Rs 11,600 at his new job but also an overtime of Rs 130 per hour, apart from a joining and an exit bonus that will arrive at the end of his month-long contract. It was this sum of Rs 5,000 that made Shaikh say yes to the vacancy that came to him through an HR portal.
The recent downpour of shopping bonanzas - Flipkart's The Big Billion Days, Amazon's Great Indian Festival and Snapdeal's Unbox Diwali -brought in an exceptional harvest with gross sales expected to hit up to Rs 9,000 crore, a 40% jump over last year, as per industry estimates. Such graphs find recruitment agencies excitedly talking about "sourcing network" and "hiring pipeline" - things they must strengthen to meet projections.
Dinesh Goel, co-founder and CEO of Aasaanjobs, an HR portal for entry-level jobs which is now working with five e-commerce players in Mumbai, says it is typical for demand for delivery boys to outstrip supply at this time of year. This is why "companies fight with each other for the limited pool of delivery boys by luring them with incentives like overtime, joining bonus and exit bonus", says Goel, whose firm has had to up its game with each passing year. "Earlier, we only did field activities to source last-mile workers," he says, referring to the recruitment drives held chiefly in colleges. "Now, we have started running referral programs to incentivize to help us source more," adds Goel, who has seen a "250-300%" jump in job applications this season.
Not all jobs listed during the festive season are temporary; those that are, see a high application rate. "This is because blue-collar workers look at these short-term jobs as extra income," says Amit Jain, V-P and business head of placement agency QuikrJobs, which added over 3,500 vacancies in metros in September alone.
This is why the delivery boy looks a tad different now.The industry has grown to include not only Class X passouts with two-wheelers but also college students, graduates, entrepreneurs who've suffered business setbacks and, in an emerging trend, even women. "We look for associates who have good communication skills and the ability to provide a good experience to customers at their doorstep," says Akhil Saxena, V-P, India Customer Fulfilment, Amazon India. Amazon has created more than 22,000 "seasonal" positions across India -a figure that's three times the number of seasonal associates hired during its sale in January.
Needless to say, the increased workload during the festive season brings its own set of challenges. "We map the delivery route in the morning but often, four clients will call saying they want the delivery early because of some reason or the other so the map changes and we have to go back and forth," says 24-year-old Azem Shah, who finds himself delivering close to 40 items ranging from shoes to clothes daily in the Ghatkopar-Vidyavihar belt. Carrying 20 kg a day is not easy. But the burden becomes easier when he remembers his first salary at this e-comm firm was almost "tible" (triple) what he used to earn at a food delivery service.
The demand for last-mile workers during the festive season is not driven by e-commerce platforms alone. Bharat Ahirwar of Russsh, a same-day delivery service for things like cake, laptop, keys, documents and garments, is in the process of bolstering his workforce of 150 delivery personnel by hiring close to 90 college students on a temporary basis this year. "Earlier we had to run after students," says Ahirwar, whose firm will pay its new recruits Rs 100 per delivery, "but now, they approach us." Among the new temp recruits is second year commerce student Anil Kumar, whose three-month gig at the same firm last festive season had thrown up a cool Rs 25,000. It translated into a new cellphone and a memorable birthday party in January . Besides, the delivery gig had unexpected fringe benefits. "I met Malaika Arora and Suzanne (Khan)," he says.
For any hiring requirements, do visit the OLX People website.