E-commerce major Flipkart has almost doubled its storage, fulfilment and supply chain capabilities in the run-up to its flagship Big Billion Days sale and the festive season, a top executive told Mint.
Flipkart has been ramping up its fulfilment and sortation strength and has set up 66 fulfilment centres in the country spanning 10 million square feet and hosting around 20 million cubic feet of storage space.
These fulfilment centres are across 12 states including Assam, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Haryana, and Karnataka.
To enable faster deliveries, the e-commerce company has also set up close to 1,000 delivery hubs, managed and owned by Flipkart, across the country which is expected to create 115,000 seasonal jobs for the festive period starting October.
This is almost 70% higher than the 70,000 seasonal jobs Flipkart created during the festive season last year.
Almost half of these new delivery hubs are aimed at increasing the e-tailer’s reach in Tier 3 and 4 cities, while the rest are meant to cater to geographies with heavy order density including key metros and Tier 1 cities.
“We have expanded our fulfilment and storage capabilities by almost 70-100% this year, ahead of the much awaited Big Billion Days sale. For us, the speed (of delivery) is important which brings customer delight. Keeping this in focus we have almost doubled the strength of our supply chain across all areas, and are also piloting alternative models of delivery,” said Hemant Badri, senior vice-president and head of supply chain, Flipkart, in an interaction with Mint.
“E-commerce has been an enabling force, bringing value and access for sellers and consumers alike. Our supply chain infrastructure and technology-enabled digital ecosystem plays a key role in enabling numerous possibilities by creating lakhs of new jobs, and offering reliable and tech-enabled transformation for traditional warehousing, helping lakhs of local sellers, MSMEs, kiranas, farmers, and under-served communities to connect with a national market,” said Kalyan Krishnamurthy, chief executive officer, Flipkart Group.
Flipkart has also doubled its kirana partnerships for this sale season to 100,000, Badri confirmed.
“Kiranas, in particular, help us form deep connections with their surrounding localities and help us expand at a much stronger pace. We have almost doubled our kirana partnerships this year as they double up as delivery hubs,” he added.
Flipkart is currently leveraging these kiranas for only local fulfilments to increase operational efficiencies and improve speed of deliveries.
Rival Amazon India, which is also expected to hold a sales event this October, also launched its ‘Local Shops’ programme targeted towards onboarding kiranas as sellers in the first quarter of 2020. It scaled this initiative to 50,000 kiranas as of July this year. Amazon has also scaled its ‘I Have Space’ programme which allows local kiranas to become local delivery agents to 350 cities.
This Big Billion Days sale, Flipkart will also be leveraging alternative delivery models to boost supply-chain efficiencies.
It has onboarded close to 100 brand-led warehousing facilities in partnership with 60 brands. Through these partnerships, Flipkart will integrate its supply chains with these brands and ensure direct deliveries from their warehouses to customers.
With electronics and large appliances clocking almost 29% of the overall gross merchandise value during last festive season sales, Flipkart has also ramped up its trained service and installation technicians this year through its entity Jeeves.
It has scaled servicing capabilities to 8,000 trained technicians for mobiles, large appliances and furniture across 17,700 pin codes in India.
Sticking to past formats, Flipkart is expected to hold its Big Billion Days sale event in October this year. However, the company still has to announce the dates.
Ahead of the festive sale season, even Amazon India has been aggressively ramping its warehousing strength and recently opened its largest warehouse in Karnataka.
Amazon plans to expand its pan-India fulfilment network to provide a total storage capacity of 43 million cubic feet to its sellers across the country in 2021.