Tapping on the country's renowned supply chain, online marketplace Flipkart on Thursday said it has tied-up with the 'dabbawalas' of Mumbai to ensure last mile delivery to consumers.
It is also experimenting with a crowd-sourced delivery model that will connect local sellers and buyers with the help of voluntary delivery personnel, reducing delivery time.
The move comes amidst growing competition among e-commerce firms such as Flipkart, Snapdeal and Amazon, who are ramping up their logistics and delivery network to build a sound last mile delivery channel to beat rivals in gaining a dedicated customer base.
"Dabbawalas have been in the profession of transporting lunch boxes with absolute precision for more than 120 years. They are a huge inspiration on how to conduct business without any paper or administrative back-up to keep the costs down," the Bangalore-based firm said in a statement.
The firm has partnered with one union of the dabbawalas. As a partner to eKart, the unique community of dabbawalas will initially collect Flipkart marketplace shipments from the delivery hubs and deliver it to customers, while picking their dabbas, it added.
At present, the person who will be part of this pilot will be involved in the last mile delivery and will not communicate with seller or merchant.
"The first batch of dabbawalas have undergone training at Flipkart's delivery centres. At this stage, they will be using a paper-based tracking system with the idea being to gradually train them on the usage of apps and other wearable tech," it added.
Flipkart's crowd-sourcing model has delivery personnel on a specialised delivery programme, post extensive background verifications, and they are free to take up deliveries as per their convenience, the firm said.
It will reduce the delivery process by enabling these personnel to directly collect the package from the local seller and deliver it to the buyer, a step that will reduce order to delivery time to as little as three to four hours.
At present the pilot is operational in Bangalore and the service is currently available for shipments of less than Rs 5,000 value.
Flipkart on Thursday also announced the appointment of Peeyush Ranjan as Senior Vice President and Head of Engineering.
Previously, he also managed Motorola's Value Devices engineering group and was Managing Director of Google India for research & development.
He will work closely with Mukesh Bansal, head of Flipkart Commerce Platform and the Commerce Platform’s leadership team. The appointment comes shortly after Punit Soni joined Flipkart as chief product officer. He was a senior product management executive for Google and Motorola.