Skills Required To Be A Last Mile Ambassador In The Delivery & Packaging Industry

Gayathri Vasudevan, Co-Founder & Executive Chairperson, Labournet Holding a PhD in Development Economics & Internation Development from the University of Delhi, Gayathri has been with LabourNet for over a decade, and has also worked as the Project Officer with International Labour Organization.

It was not too long ago that home delivery of products such as Furniture and televisions was straightforward and rigid, with very few choices for customers. However today, there is a dramatic change in the way consumers experience their purchases. There is no longer the need for them to frequent the brick & mortar stores for their shopping.

With the rise of and the influence of e-Commerce, the proliferation of technology via the internet, smartphones, tablets and mobile apps, the ability to research,view, select and buy virtually practically. Any product or service online, from anywhere, has become a reality.

The purchases that are getting delivered to homes range from products like durable lifestyle goods, FMCGs to delivery of services like housekeeping or even getting a spa at home. Delivery windows have shrunk, in some cases, on the same day as the purchase. Now it is the retailer and the last mile delivery provider who are obligated to adapt to the consumer's schedule and meet their higher expectations for visibility and flexibility.

The accelerating growth in e-Commerce has flagged the way for many specific logistics firms in the country. The sector currently employs more than 100,000 delivery boys & girls and have testified at 200-300 percent hike over last year's numbers. Growth is forecasted to be alike this year. It has become a familiar sight to spot delivery boys & girls with huge bags on their back as they drive-down to deliver products and service from the warehouses of e-Commerce companies to offices and residences of the consumers.

The last mile delivery dynamic, which was once mostly an after thought for retailers, today has grown to become an integral and strategic part of a company’s customer service and brand prestige. The providers of last mile delivery services are displaying
the face of the retailer. In such a scenario, the skills of the last mile delivery agents assume great importance. A level of present ability customer service, product knowledge and communication skills all oriented towards the consumer, including the ability in some cases to quickly and accurately assemble or install a product, and many such things should become the second nature of these last mile delivery agents.

As these last mile delivery agents constitute a significant portion of the flourishing Gig economy, this gap, unless addressed correctly is likely to become a critical obstacle in the growth of the logistics sector in India

In a vast country like India, the retail sector is by far the largest employer of the lastmile delivery of goods and services. It is changing fast with organized retail, comprising of online and brick & mortar retailers, growing faster than the overall industry in itself. For such employers, the minimum skills and assets required to get hired as a delivery agent are:
Communication Skills
•Speaking clearly so listeners can understand.
•Listening to others and asking questions.
•Understanding spoken and written information
•Write clearly so other people can understand.
•Read and understand work related materials.

Reasoning & Problem Solving:
•Analyzing ideas and use logic to determine their strengths and weaknesses.
•Following guidelines to arrange objects or actions in specific order
•Use reasoning to discover answers to problems.
•Noticing when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong.

Technological Literacy:Ability to read and use maps to reach the customer's location.
Managing Oneself Time People & Things: Manage the time of self and others.
Working with People
•Look for ways to help people.
•Be aware of others' reactions and understand the possible causes.
•Persuade others to approach things differently.

Assets:Own two wheelers and smartphones

Need for Improved Skilling
A look at the financial of a set of 80 logistics companies in India across sectors reveals that companies’ expense of the workforce constitute just 8-10 percent of overall sales of the industry. Out of which only about 13-14 percent of the total workforce expenditure is spent on non salary, and skill development items(welfare and training). This lack of focus and investment in developing human resources and skills for the last mile delivery agents in the sector has resulted in a significant gap in the numbers and quality of the workforce in the industry.

As these last mile delivery agents constitute a significant portion of the flourishing Gig economy, this gap unless addressed correctly, is likely to become a critical obstacle in the growth of the logistics sector in India. The consequence could impact growth in the retail and the service industries along with manufacturing sectors as well. This emphasizes the need for recognizing the areas where such workforce skill gaps are significant and devising focused action plans to fix the situation.