E-commerce major Amazon India on Friday said it will add 50,000 ‘seasonal’ or temporary roles to meet the surge in online demand for products, particularly from those most vulnerable to being out in public in the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic.
The 50,000 seasonal roles will be across its warehousing and delivery network, and the move comes at a time when economic activities and e-commerce operations are slowly chugging back to life outside containment zones, as the country eyes a staggered exit from lockdown, with fewer curbs.
The opening of seasonal roles at Amazon India also comes amid the spate of layoffs by tech-led companies like Swiggy, Zomato, ShareChat, Ola and some others over the past few days.
“Amazon India today announced that it has opened close to 50,000 seasonal roles to meet the surge in demand from people relying on Amazon’s service, particularly those most vulnerable to being out in public.
“This will be a variety of roles in their fulfilment centres and delivery network including part-time flexible work opportunities as independent contractors with Amazon Flex,” the company said in a statement.
They will join other thousands of associates across Amazon India’s fulfilment and delivery network and assist them to pick, pack, ship and deliver customers’ orders more efficiently, it said.
“As India continues to maintain social distancing to fight the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Amazon India firmly believes it has a unique role to play providing a critical service for the community; to help them get the items they need for their families without leaving their homes,” it said.
Akhil Saxena, VP, Customer Fulfilment Operations (Asia Pacific, Middle East and North Africa, and Latin America), at Amazon said that the COVID-19 pandemic has underlined the important role that Amazon and ecommerce can play for customers as much as for small businesses and the economy.
“We take this responsibility seriously, and we’re proud of the work our teams are doing to help small and other businesses deliver to our customers through this difficult time.
“We want to continue helping customers all over India get everything they need so they can continue to practice social distancing. To enable this, we are creating work opportunities for close to 50,000 seasonal associates across our fulfilment and delivery network,” he said.
Saxena added that this will also keep as many people as possible working during this pandemic while providing a safe work environment for them.
“While creating these opportunities, Amazon remains committed to the health and safety of its associates, partners, employees, and customers, and has implemented a number of measures towards their well-being,” the company statement said.
The company has made almost 100 significant process changes in operations for the safety of workers which include mandatory face covering, daily temperature checks in buildings, increased frequency and intensity of cleaning at all sites including regular sanitization of frequently touched areas, and awareness-building among associates on safety requirements around hand-washing and hand sanitization.
After nearly two months of stringent movement curbs to combat the spread of coronavirus pandemic, consumers have resumed online shopping and are placing orders for items like laptops, AC, and fridge in red zones that have now been allowed to ship orders of nonessential items under liberal set of rules for lockdown 4.0.
In the first two phases of the lockdown, which started from March 25, e-commerce companies were allowed to sell only essential items like grocery, healthcare and pharmaceutical products.
In the third phase (May 4-17), these platforms were allowed to sell all items in orange and green zones, but only essential items were allowed to be shipped in red zones, which included top e-commerce hubs like Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Pune and Hyderabad.
An industry watcher, however, noted that despite the pent up demand, sales continue to be a fraction of the volumes seen in the pre-COVID-19 timeframe. The industry hopes that the demand will pick up in the coming days as the situation around COVID-19 improves, and more sellers resume operation.
E-commerce platform saw a significant impact on their business during the lockdown, given that grocery segment accounts for a small portion of online sales.
While orders are scaling up now, the sector continues to face the challenge of availability of limited manpower for warehouses and delivery, prompting the likes of Amazon to bring in seasonal workers.
Grocery delivery platforms like BigBasket and Grofers have also scaled up hiring to meet the increased demand.
Interestingly, food delivery platforms like Zomato and Swiggy have announced laying off over 1,600 employees amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
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