Old-world companies need to become more people-focused in their approach or risk losing talent to e-commerce start-ups
The overall retail spending in India is around $500 billion out of which e-commerce, excluding the travel segment, makes less than one per cent of the same, which indicates that the industry is poised for huge growth in the coming years. It is expected to grow 8-10 times more than the current figure and this further implies that the industry would require more people to scale. With growing confidence in the industry’s growth potential and the increasing capital, the industry is looking at absorbing 6-7 times more number of people than it currently employs.
Being on a growth ride, we have ensured that we have a balanced workforce with experienced people who can take up a role hands-on, and can also train or groom the fresh talent that we hire going further. For people with a prior industry experience, we look at hiring from lateral industries such as the FMCG, consulting and other established organizations. We hire people irrespective of their backgrounds, provided they make a culture fit and have process scalability skills. We also hire fresh talent from institutes and are also looking at hiring global talent, especially for design related roles as that is still a niche talent segment in India.
We need more people in various functions such as technology, logistics or delivery, customer service or advisory and marketing. While technology is one of the most important aspects of our business, the logistics or delivery is the core. The logistics function needs people at all levels starting from unskilled labour to managers who can control the delivery processes as it’s not just about delivering the product, it’s also about creating a front-end experience for our customer.
Our customer service, or to rightly put it as advisory vertical, is an expert team of relationship building officers who can advise the customers on products, beyond handling usual concerns. These are people from the consulting, hospitality or public relations domains. Lastly, since marketing in our field of work is more about the online appeal of the product, our team is a group of merchandising officers, photographers, videographers and designers. This itself is a proof of the fact that e-commerce has opportunities for talent from various streams.
The key differentiating factor for us as an employer is that only 50 per cent of our hires are against existing roles while 50 per cent of our people are hired because we see them as people who have the potential to grow with us. We create new roles and opportunities for them. This is our way of engaging smart talent. Investing in talent is of utmost importance to us and hence a major chunk of the $26.5 million funding that we have raised in our two years goes into recruiting, developing, training and engaging talent. We also consciously invest hugely in employer branding exercises, going to campuses and engaging talent. Amongst product, marketing & branding and people, its people who make the first priority for us. Hence, we try our best to provide a fun and satisfying work environment to our people.
The ability of the e-commerce to absorb people from all domains and its flexible and growth oriented work-culture is the USP of the industry for talent. There are a large number of people who having worked in the corporates for 5-7 years are moving into these start-up organizations for the aforesaid factors. The increasing funds in the e-commerce domain also enable them to gain a hold on premium talent. In the wake of such a shift, the old world organizations might find it difficult to attract or retain the best talent unless they also innovate and be more people-focused in their approach. Otherwise, no sooner will there be a tug of war for talent between the old world organizations and new world e-commerce organizations.
As told to People Matters