Behind the scenes: how Flipkart is delivering festive cheer to these hills ahead of Big Billion Days
In India’s North Eastern corridors, that’s close to almost four international borders – Nepal, China, Bangladesh, and Bhutan – is the bustling city of Siliguri. Like most hill towns, the place is characterised by the usual humdrum of tourism and by the signs of unforeseen growth in Indian trade and ecommerce.
If you take a stroll in the city, you will come across a few Japanese-Chinese lifestyle stores, popular for their eclectic mix of everyday wares. There are also the globally-popular food chains, apparel stores, electronics brands, and more.Even as each new day, these colourful, varied, and vivid new businesses come to life across the length and breadth of the city, Siliguri continues to bear an unmistakable charm associated with the hills.
It is after all, strategically positioned, spanning two districts, Darjeeling and Jalpaiguri, on the northernmost tip of West Bengal. Rightfully called the gateway to the North East, Siliguri is also critical when it comes to connectivity with the nearby hills of Kurseong, Kalimpong, and Mirik, each located some 4,000-5,000 feet above sea level, and within a 100 km radius from the city.
It is not difficult to imagine then, why and how the city has transformed into a vibrant ecommerce centre.
With its rapidly increasing population, access to nearby Bagdogra airport, and a gradual shift towards online shopping, Siliguri has become the hub of Flipkart’s last-mile delivery. The bunch of seven-eight delivery executives working in the city is delivering happiness in the hills against all odds.
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Going the distance with team Flipkart
As scenic and picturesque the North East is, it is not hard to imagine how difficult the terrain could get with the slightest change in climate. In fact, during the three days of my stay, I experienced the vagaries in weather – it rained heavily on one day, and turned hot and humid the next day.
And to add to the unpredictability of the weather, the terrain is marked by steep hills and narrow, winding roads.
For the team of delivery executives, manning the last-mile delivery hub in Siliguri, each day is nothing less than an adventure. From sorting the deliveries according to location to their daily round of calls, reaching out to customers and alerting them about the impending delivery, everything is a matter of precision and alertness in the hills.
Pintu, who supports a family of five including his parents, wife, and son, is among the senior delivery executives working in the Flipkart hub in Siliguri. Pintu has studied up to Class XII and has always loved the idea of a field job, as it would allow him to develop his “people” skills.
“I joined Flipkart as a wish master primarily because the job entailed working in the field, meeting new people, customers, and interacting with them. I feel this way, I can interact with a lot more people than I would in a desk job; this is something that is also integral in gathering relevant experience,” he says.
Places like Kurseong, Kalimpong, and Mirik, that this team of delivery executives cater to, are literally the tip of the iceberg. This last-mile fleet has traversed even more difficult terrain, travelling to remote areas like Cooch Behar, Alipurduar, and Jaigaon, a small town on the Indo-Bhutan border.
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Spreading festive cheer
Flipkart's fleet getting ready to deliver ahead of BBD sales
In Siliguri and its adjoining hills, where connectivity is limited and the transport system rudimentary, it’s nothing less than a miracle when a delivery executive brings a packed and sealed box to the customer’s doorstep.