The advent of e-commerce in India has redefined the way Indians celebrate their average festival. In the last few months of the year, e-commerce majors such as Amazon, Flipkart, and Shopclues compete with one another by luring customers with attractive sales and offers. Over the years, this has led to an enhanced level of high efficiency in logistics players that are working day and night to ensure packages reach customers anywhere in India on or even ahead of time.
Amazon’s The Great Indian Festival Sale and Flipkart’s BigBillionDays kicked off the festive season rush earlier this year. Relentless sale offerings by almost every major e-commerce player have inundatedIn the last few months of the year, e-commerce majors such as Amazon, Flipkart, and Shopclues compete with one another by luring customers with attractive sales and offers. Over the years, this has led to an enhanced level of high efficiency in logistics players that are working day and night to ensure packages reach customers anywhere in India on or even ahead of time. the market as India celebrates some of its marquee festivals such as Dussehra and Diwali in the last few months of the year. Research by CouponRaja stated that Amazon, Flipkart and Shopclues dominated the festive season sale by comfortable margins due to steep discounts and largescale promotions. Transaction volumes and gross merchandise value (GMV) went up three times this year compared to 2016. Rohit Chugh, founder and CEO of Logicserve Group that operates CouponRaja says, “This year’s Diwali sale so far is testimony to the fact that online shopping is here not only to stay but also to grow rapidly. The developments in connectivity, reach, logistics and regulation are contributing to the evolution of e-commerce in India.”
Strengthening Logistics During Festive Season
Even as e-commerce sets new benchmarks for sale margins, this growth has been possible due to seamless planning and high-efficiency distribution networks. Akhil Saxena, vice-president of customer fulfilment at Amazon India, said, “We work backwards from the customer to ensure we are well prepared for the significant increase in volume we experience during the festive season. A significant chunk of our investments goes into building the logistics and fulfilment infrastructure in India, providing our customers with a fast and reliable delivery experience.”
Amazon India has invested in developing fulfilment centres across the country – in 2016, there were 27 of them with a storage capacity of 7.5 million cubic feet in 10 states. Today, they have 41 centres in 13 Indian states with a collective storage capacity of 13 million cubic feet. Ahead of the festive season, the company also expanded its service partner networks by 40%.
Logistics companies in India are constantly under pressure to deliver goods to consumers on time or even earlier than the expected date, for which a hassle-free logistics network is required. This has paved the way for high level technology innovation, designed to handle large volumes of demand during the festive season. Kapil Mahajan, chief information officer of Safexpress, which services e-commerce companies like Flipkart and Jabong, says, “The past couple of months have been very busy for us. We anticipated large sale volumes so we have streamlined operations to handle big loads.”
Safexpress, like many leading logistics companies in India that serve e-commerce companies, work with a sufficient load buffer during Dussehra, Diwali and Christmas. Mahajan believes technology plays a major role in enhancing efficiency of operations, especially with the use of systems such as waybill generation systems for invoices, real-time information sharing, GPRS-enabled smart delivery devices, transhipment route optimization and barcode identification.
Despite the intervention of advanced technology platforms, some challenges persist. Heavy rains in Bangalore and Hyderabad over the past month threw traffic out of gear and ruined the condition of several major roads, affecting planned operations of many logistics companies. Nishith Rastogi, CEO of Locus, which provides optimized algorithms to manage logistics for companies, says, “Some situations are unprecedented such as bad weather. The goal should be to anticipate such problems and map out back up plans. For instance, during heavy downpour, arterial roads will be clogged so our GPS systems instruct drivers to take a slightly longer but congestion-free route to reach their destinations. When technology takes over manual decision-making, load balancing is done more efficiently and with lesser bias.”