While e-commerce operators were hit during the lockdown as the government allowed only essentials to be sold online, they made a sharp recovery after May as more consumers bought goods on their platforms sitting at home. This was a mix of increased purchases from existing e-buyers and a significant chunk of offline retail demand coming online.
Estimates from TeamLease showed 15-20% of these seasonal jobs, typically created to meet the festive season rush, are likely to be renewed or extended going into 2021. These roles typically pay Rs 20,000-25,000 per month. The seasonal jobs are usually for anywhere between three and six months.
Industry executives and analysts said the e-commerce sector will continue to create such roles at a steady pace as demand remains strong for online purchases. According to market research firm Forrester, the e-commerce market is estimated to see a higher growth of around 25% next year to $42 billion compared to a 7-8% growth in 2020 at around $33.5 billion, hit by lockdown. In 2019, the industry was over $31 billion in size.
Amazon India is estimated to have hired 70,000-75,000 workers during the pandemic. This includes replacing existing vacant positions in its supply chain network. Amazon India had said it hired over a lakh such people, but this includes call centre executives to address consumer queries. Flipkart had announced hiring estimates of 70,000, while other logistics players like Delhivery and Ecom Express announced hiring around 15,000 and 30,000 respectively.
“Whatever volume (shipments) is there in terms of the new normal will continue. After the relaxation, every month has been better than the previous ones. While traditional retail may take longer to recover, these volumes will hold till next season. We would have retained 10-15% of our seasonal hiring,” said Ecom Express co-founder and CEO T A Krishnan. According to him, future monthly hiring would depend on sales in the next two quarters, but overall it may be higher by 30-50% in 2021.
During this year’s festive season, peak order volume was 7.5 million a day compared to around 4.5 million last year. A spokesperson of Amazon India said it will “continue to create additional opportunities across the network based on customer demand”. The e-tail giant did not specify numbers for 2021. In a separate blog, Amazon said its India operations team, as part of a global programme, will get additional payments as incentives. This will be applicable to both full-time and part-time employees who worked during October 16-November 13.
“E-commerce is still going to drive job growth for multiple reasons. First, existing companies are catching more consumers. A lot of offline brands are building their e-commerce team, albeit small, and then one can expect Reliance to push hiring growth for online grocery (JioMart) and the potential entry of Tata would further scale that up,” said Forrester senior forecast analyst Satish Meena. Tata Group is reportedly looking to acquire a majority stake in online grocer Bigbasket.
A senior executive of a vertical e-commerce player said his firm was expecting higher sales from January as it sells niche products focused on kids. “Based on inquiries and current sales trends, we are expecting to hit higher gross sale numbers in the next two months,” he added.