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As the festive season approaches, Amazon and Flipkart go into overdrive to scale up warehousing capacity

Step aside Cyber Monday, forget Black Friday, and watch out Singles’ Day.

For bargain-hunting shoppers ready to loosen their purse strings this festival season, the country’s two largest e-commerce platforms — Amazon and Flipkart — have gone into overdrive to scale up warehousing capacity.

Amazon rival Flipkart is girding up for its flagship The Big Billion Days (TBBD) sale event.

Fifty kilometres from Kolkata at Haringhata in the Nadia district of West Bengal, hiring at Flipkart’s big-box facility is going full steam — around 400 people are joining every day! There is unlikely to be any let-up in the intensity as the Walmart-owned e-commerce major rolls out the red carpet.

The Haringhata facility, which happens to be Flipkart’s largest fulfillment centre, started operations last year and is in ramp-up mode.

There are about 3,000-3,500 people currently working out of a massive box-like structure that sits on a 110-acre plot and has a built-up space of 2 million sq. ft with 5 million cubic feet of storage space spread across six mezzanine floors. From a robotics packaging arm to automated storage and retrieval system for faster movement of shipments, it flaunts state-of-the-art technology.

The facility — which has a processing capacity of 1 million shipments daily and can employ up to 11,000 people — will play an important role this season.

With TBBD probably less than two months away (the dates are yet to be announced), hiring is happening across Flipkart facilities — about 50,000 seasonal jobs will be added, taking the total workforce to 250,000. At the seller’s end, it will create indirect employment through vendor and trucking partners.

From a preparation point of view for TBBD, Hemant Badri, senior vice-president, Flipkart, has a checklist ready: hiring the right kind of people, building the right inventory, and infrastructure-readiness.

Creating infrastructure has been an ongoing process for Flipkart. Manesar is next in line. South India will have one — the location for which is yet to be finalised. A similar built-up area as the current one is proposed at Haringhata. At the existing Haringhata facility, the investment was to the tune of Rs 1,500 crore.

Not to be left behind, Amazon India, too, has announced the expansion of its sortation and delivery network in Pune in the run-up to the festival season.

Amazon hosts its flagship event The Great Indian Festival (TGIF) to catch the festive spirit. With this expansion, Amazon India will now have six sorting centres with more than 500,000 square (sq.) feet (ft) of sortation area, and close to 215 Amazon and partner delivery stations in Maharashtra. This infrastructural expansion will support more than 130,000 sellers in the state to reach a larger customer base, while offering a wider selection of products and faster deliveries this season. The newly launched sortation centre is spread across 125,000 sq. ft, facilitating the connection of packages to delivery stations in the city and parts of Maharashtra, enabling quicker deliveries across the state.

“Maharashtra has always been an important state for us. This expansion reiterates our commitment to strengthen the local economy,” says Abhinav Singh, director, customer fulfilment, supply chain and global speciality fulfilment, Amazon India, adding, “It also creates hundreds of work opportunities, including flexible earning opportunities, as we continue our long-term investment in infrastructure and technology.”

The company also announced the expansion of its delivery network in Pune, with a new delivery station spanning 15,000 sq. ft. This station will enable Amazon India to strengthen its last-mile delivery network and ensure faster deliveries in Pune and in areas such as Jambhulwadi, Katraj, Askarwadi, Yewalewadi, and Bibwewadi.

Delivery stations are the starting point for Amazon India’s ‘last-mile delivery’ in which ordered products are consolidated from fulfillment centres and sortation centres and delivered to the doorstep of customers in the surrounding area.

“The continued investment of Amazon India and other e-commerce companies will further help micro, small, and medium enterprises from the state to expand their footprint, increase local job opportunities, and contribute to the growth of the local economy,” said Uday Samant, Minister for Industries, Government of Maharashtra.

Amazon is also strengthening its engagement with the Indian Railways for moving customer packages on 325 inter-city routes. This is a fivefold increase in routes since the e-commerce firm began working with the Railways in 2019. The Railways enables the company to make one- and two-day delivery to customers in towns and smaller cities. With this expansion, Amazon India will ferry packages to Jharsuguda, Ratnagiri, Kurnool, Nanded, Bareilly, Bokaro, and Rudrapur.

The expansion is in line with the company’s need to ensure timely deliveries during the festival season from October through December.

This month, Amazon India also said it has launched the Northeast’s first all-women delivery station in Mizoram which will be operated by its delivery service partner. The newly launched station is situated in Champhai, close to the India-Myanmar border.

This month, the firm launched a new delivery station in Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh. Spread across 22,000 sq. ft, the new station will enable Amazon to further strengthen its last-mile delivery network and ensure faster deliveries across Ghaziabad and in areas such as Bamheta, Chhapraula, Dasna, Harsaon, among others, in the lead up to the festival season.

Amazon, Flipkart, and others saw blockbuster festival season sales of about $9.2 billion last year, surpassing pre-pandemic sales of $5 billion witnessed during the festival months in 2019, according to a report by consulting firm RedSeer. Business Standard

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