March 22, 2023

Fifty kilometres from Kolkata, at Haringhata in Nadia district of West Bengal, hiring at Flipkart’s big-box unit is on full steam; about 400 people are joining every day at this point. And there is unlikely to be any let-up in the intensity as the e-commerce major gears up for The Big Billion Days (BBD) sale, Flipkart’s annual festive extravaganza.

The Haringhata facility, which happens to be Flipkart’s largest fulfillment centre, started operations last year and is in ramp-up mode. There are 3,000-3,500 people currently working out of the massive structure that sits on a 110-acre plot and has a built-up space of 2 million square feet, with 5 million cubic feet of storage space spread across 6 mezzanine floors–from a robotics packaging arm to automated storage and retrieval system for faster movement of shipments, it flaunts modern technologies.

Flipkart's Haringhata fulfillment center

Conveyor belts sorting goods at Flipkart’s the Haringhata fulfillment center

The facility, which can process one million shipments a day and accommodate 11,000 people, will play a key role this festive season.

But the BBD is probably in less than two months (the dates are yet to be announced) and hiring is on across facilities; about 50,000 seasonal jobs will be added taking the total workforce to 250,000. In addition, at the seller’s end, it will create indirect employment through vendor and trucking partners.

There are 3-4 important things from a preparation point of view for the BBD, said Hemant Badri, senior vice president and head of supply chain, Group. The checklist includes hiring the right kind of people, building the right inventory and infrastructure readiness.

So, the people ramp-up is happening and they are immediately getting trained to get into the industrial culture of warehousing and distribution. The inventory-building is going as per plan. It is reasonably ahead of time, according to Badri.

Flipkart's Haringhata fulfillment center

Aerial view of Flipkart’s largest Flipkart’s fulfillment center at Haringhata

Face-to-face sellers’ meets have happened in Surat and Delhi; with about 2,000 turning up at Surat. And a lot of them are looking forward to a BBD-specific selection.

The physical infrastructure is already in place. Between the last BBD and this August, has added 3.3 million square feet, taking the total warehousing space to 21 million square feet.

Creating infrastructure has been an ongoing process for Flipkart.

In the past three years, it has added several large-scale fulfillment and sortation centres and thousands of delivery hubs. And there are plans to set up three big-box facilities over the next three years.

Manesar is next in line; South India would have one, the location for which is yet to be finalised. A similar built-up area as the current one is proposed at Haringhata. At the existing Haringhata facility, the investment was about Rs 1,500 crore.

The last two years of the Covid pandemic have accelerated e-commerce growth in the country. Still, the semblance of normalcy is fueling expectations around the upcoming BBD. “This year, it should be better for us from every aspect,” Badri said.

“Economic activities have opened and there is a lot of positivity. We believe our preparation is far better and it will be the next big change for us, from growth and prospects. Whatever we grow year-on-year, this BBD should give us much more than that,” he added.

Industry reports suggest that this festive season, 40-50 million new users would onboard the platform, coming mostly from tier-3 and 4 towns. BBDs are special for Flipkart. Each year, it creates a new base of customers, sellers and shipments, higher than the previous.

Not surprisingly therefore, Badri said, “In Flipkart, people don’t look at how many years you have spent, but how many BBDs you have done.”

What to expect from BBD 2022:

  1. 40-50 million new users with majority from tier 3 and 4 towns
  2. Highest ever operating warehousing space of 21 million square feet to enable faster deliveries

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