The Indian arm of ecommerce behemoth Amazon has announced the launch of a first-of-its-kind Silent Delivery Station in Mumbai, in collaboration with Mirakle Couriers. The move is aimed at empowering and support diverse communities in the country by creating relevant job opportunities for them.
As per the official statement, the concept of the silent delivery station was conceived nearly 18 months ago when Amazon India forged a partnership with Mirakle Couriers, a Mumbai-based service partner that employs deaf people.
The silent delivery station is part of the last-mile service partner programme of Amazon Logistics, wherein entrepreneurs act as Amazon India’s local distribution network providers and create the last mile delivery footprint.
Prior to launching a dedicated silent delivery station, Amazon India conducted a pilot with four hard-of-hearing associates, who worked alongside hearing associates in one of the ecommerce giant’s delivery stations.
Commenting on the development, Akhil Saxena, Vice President, India Customer Fulfilment, Amazon India said “Our vision is to create opportunities for individuals to realize their potential and transform their lives. We are committed to using our resources and infrastructure of innovation and technology to enable diverse communities to succeed. We are proud to have pioneered the ‘Silent Delivery Station’ which is a first-of-its-kind, India-specific innovation from Amazon.”
As stated by Amazon India’s spokesperson, the newly-opened delivery station is almost entirely managed by deaf associates. These associates deliver packages covering a radius of two to three kilometres from the delivery station either by bus or on foot.
At present, all associates working in Amazon’s silent delivery station are trained on safety procedures and customer experience behaviours by the team at Mirakle Couriers via sign language. They use the same technology as hearing associates with some modification in the processes to ease their delivery experience.
Speaking about the partnership with Amazon India, Mirakle Couriers CEO Dhruv Lakra stated, “The idea was basically to radically change how deaf people and people with disabilities are currently employed in a country like India. By partnering with Amazon India, we have set an example for many in the country to support the differently-abled people by providing them with relevant opportunities and improve their livelihood.”
Currently, the company has over 350 service partner nodes across the country. As part of the service partner programme, the ecommerce behemoth originally launched a women-only delivery station in Thiruvananthapuram back in March 2016.
A similar delivery station was opened in Chennai around the same time. Amazon India has also teamed up with other service partners such as Head Held High, StoreKing and IndiaBuys to set up a dedicated ‘rural’ ecommerce distribution centre manned by local youth in various parts of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.
Ecommerce Giant Amazon Bullish On Indian Market
Despite incurring losses in the past and facing cut-throat competition from rivals Flipkart and Paytm Mall, Amazon has been bullish about its expansion in India and shows no plans to back down. Over the last year or so, Amazon India has doubled down in its efforts to conquer diverse sectors like grocery and digital payments.
Logistics is another important growth vertical that Amazon India is aggressively trying to capture. According to Minister of State for Rural Development Ram Kripal Yadav, the Indian logistics sector is poised to grow into a $307 Bn industry by 2020. To capitalise on the domain’s huge potential, the company established its logistics arm, Amazon Transportation Services (ATS), in March 2015.
Later in February 2017, Amazon Development Center announced the launch of two new customer service facilities, in Noida and Coimbatore, respectively. In April 2017, it was also reported that Amazon India had secured a licence from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to operate a prepaid payment instrument (PPI).
This came at a time when the company’s CEO Jeff Bezos said that the ecommerce giant’s Indian arm Amazon India is India’s most popular marketplace, indicating the company’s intention to keep fuelling investment in India.
In July 2017, Amazon India announced plans to extend its logistics services to its sellers in India, even for orders placed through offline distribution as well as competitors Flipkart and Snapdeal. The logistics arm is currently running a pilot programme, in which it is reportedly working with 300 of its registered sellers.
The company is also focussed on rapidly expanding its network of fulfilment centres across the country. Amazon currently offers sellers three basic services: Merchant Fulfilment Network (MFN), Easy Shipping Model, and Fulfilment By Amazon (FBA). Not exactly a warehouse, Amazon’s fulfilment centres are part of the FBA programme, which allows sellers to store their inventory in Amazon’s fulfilment centres across the country. At present, around 60% of the vendors use this service.
From 100 sellers and one FC in June of 2013, the company’s Indian unit has massively expanded its infrastructure footprint to include more than 30 Mn cubic feet of storage space across 13 states. At present, it works with six pan-India courier partners to ensure swift deliveries.
Last year, in the month of August, the Seattle-headquartered ecommerce giant unveiled its 41st fulfilment centre in Jamalpur, Haryana. Boasting an area of over 250K-square-feet, the facility has around 1.2 Mn cubic feet dedicated exclusively to inventory storage.
Only a week after the inauguration of the Jamalpur facility, Amazon announced the launch of its biggest Indian FC in Hyderabad. Situated at Shamshabad in Hyderabad, it boasts a total area of 400K-square-feet and a storage capacity of more than 2.1 Mn cubic feet.
Having committed $5 Bn to bolster its Indian arm, global ecommerce behemoth Amazon has been aggressively strengthening its presence in the country, while also thwarting competition from heavily-funded rivals like Flipkart and Paytm Mall. The latest launch of its silent delivery station is another strategic move by the company to make a lasting impact on the Indian ecommerce logistics market.