Amazon navigating the festive rush by embracing innovation & sustainability

“I think frugality drives innovation, just like other constraints do. One of the only ways to get out of a tight box is to invent your way out,” Jeff Bezos quoted revealing one of the three principles writing the success of Amazon in this modern age. Walking hand-inhand with its founder’s ideology, Amazon India has been quick on its feet to bring innovation and derive customer delight through the hectic Indian festive season. Abhinav Singh, Director – Customer Fulfilment, Supply Chain and Global Specialty Fulfilment, Amazon, in an exclusive interaction gives us a taste of innovation that has been onboarded by the e-commerce giant to efficiently carry out the overwhelming festive season. Singh talks about Amazon India’s innovative partnership with Railways, its newly introduced flagship programs, innovation on customers’ behalf, and its sustainability initiatives in recent years. Edited Excerpts:

Tell us a bit about the partnership between Amazon and Indian Railways. How can it be a gamechanger during the upcoming festive season? 

As a customer-obsessed company, we are constantly leveraging our resources and technology to build initiatives that are grounded in customer convenience. Ahead of the festive season, Amazon India has further strengthened its operational engagement with the Indian Railways, with more than 325 inter-city transportation lanes for the movement of customer packages. This marks a 5X increase in railway lanes ever since the eCommerce giant commenced its operations with the Indian Railways and is one of the enablers for the company to offer 1-day and 2-day delivery promises to customers in the hinterlands of the country. The expansion is also in line with the need to meet customer promises and offer fast and reliable deliveries during the festive season. Amazon India delivers to all 100% serviceable pin codes, with more than 97% of pin codes now being able to receive their deliveries within 2 days of placing an order.

What steps have you taken to ensure Amazon’s quick and efficient delivery promise during the hectic festive season?

At Amazon India, we are committed to enhancing the shopping experience for customers and enabling sellers to extend their reach to all parts of the country. We continue to invest in expanding our infrastructure network to ensure faster fulfillment of orders, and now have more than 43 MM cubic feet of storage space across 60 Fulfilment centers in 15 Indian states. This enables us to meet our customer promises across the country every day. 

 We have a robust tracking system implemented across all three miles. From the time a package is ordered, picked, and packed at a fulfillment center, transported to the delivery station, and further to the customer, we can track the movement of all packages with seamless technology integration across miles. We have built a robust lastmile delivery network with more than 1850 Amazon-owned and partner delivery stations with direct reach in many remote locations such as the northeastern towns of Morigaon, Diphu, Bihpuria, and Karimganj. 

Over the years, Amazon has continued to invest in its flagship ‘I Have Space’ program, which has now more than 28,000 neighborhood and Kirana partners in close to 420 cities. Under this program, Amazon India partners with local store owners to deliver products to customers within a 2-4 km radius of their store during their free time. Additionally, Amazon works with thousands of delivery partners in 65 cities, as part of the Amazon Flex program providing flexible work opportunities to interested individuals. This is in addition to our existing partnership with third-party delivery providers such as Indian Postal Services.  The continued expansion of our last mile delivery network has enabled Amazon to service customers and cover 100% pin codes in India. 

We also continue to invest in speed with the expansion of our next day, same day, and subsame day network.  To ensure reliable and timely deliveries, we are constantly investing in technology, logistics, infrastructure, and most importantly people. Over the years we have built a strong network of partners and associates and invested in their training and upskilling. We have focused on building interface tools and technology that enhance driver and customer experience. We leverage our technology and resources to optimize the processes and functions across the last mile network.

 Although hiring additional staff during peak season is a viable option, one cannot completely rely on additional hands at work, without any knowledge or awareness of what to expect. What steps are you taking to keep them prepared and motivated to handle the hectic season?

Amazon’s single-minded focus globally and in India is working backward for the customer and innovating on their behalf. 

We remain committed to creating job opportunities and investing in India. Every year, we strengthen our teams significantly with tens of thousands of seasonal associates working across Amazon’s fulfillment network ahead of the festive season to provide an enhanced shopping experience to our customers and enable faster deliveries. Through our operations network, we have created work opportunities for individuals from all communities, including women, LGBTQ, military veterans, and the differently abled, amongst others. We have created unique opportunities for women in the logistics space enabling them to build fulfilling careers.

This is an abridged version of the original interview which was published in the September edition of the Logistics Insider magazine. To read the complete interview, click here.

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