Connecting India the Flipkart way: How Wishmasters deliver dreams across terrains & seasons

Convenience, access, affordability - e-commerce brings us all of this at the click of a button. At the end of every click, the efficiency of technology is combined with the skills and sheer willpower of humans to bring a package to your doorstep. In this story, we traverse across challenging terrains in remote areas across India that are home to valued Flipkart customers, and to determined Flipkart Wishmasters.

Between the time an order is placed and the package is delivered, human skill and technology come together seamlessly to ensure Flipkart’s delivery process is smooth, quick and efficient. And in some parts of India, humans go the extra mile – sometimes quite literally – to bring a package home.

As India’s homegrown e-commerce marketplace, Flipkart’s vision to enable access and affordability shine through every day in the form of the resilient humans in our supply chain. Our Wishmasters, and others in the supply chain, navigate remote terrains, unpredictable weather and more to deliver with care to every customer. And through it all, they say, Flipkart keeps their safety a priority, enabling them to do their best at work and support their families back home.

Read as Flipkart Wishmasters across the country talk about their experiences of delivering dreams to every Indian.

A border town jam

Raxaul district, Bihar

From misty mountains, silvery streams to jungles that hold secrets, India’s diverse terrain has been the muse to art in many forms. For Flipkart Wishmasters, this is reality every day. Every delivery sometimes comes with its own adventure. And such is also the case in Bihar, in a town that borders Nepal.

Raxaul town in Bihar is a unique one. Situated in the East Champaran district, it is a crucial junction that connects India to Nepal via a railway station that has been in existence since 1927. It is also connected by road via a National Highway.

Every day, hundreds of people cross the border between the two countries. For the Flipkart Delivery Hub in Raxaul, which delivers only on the Indian side of the border, this poses an unusual challenge of heavy traffic jams.

“Traffic is usually associated with big cities, but we witness it every day,” says Manoranjan, the Team Lead at the Raxaul Hub. Here, 55 Flipkart Wishmasters deliver to customers every day, braving jam-packed roads on the way to villages and towns across Raxaul.

Delivery

“While 15 of the Wishmasters deliver in the main market area, the rest all deliver Flipkart packages to villages around Raxaul,” adds Manoranjan.

Once the Wishmasters maneuver through traffic, they are faced with roads that are difficult to access by bike, especially during the monsoons. The rains play havoc and destroy them, drastically reducing connectivity.


Watch: Flipkart Wishmasters traverse deserts & forts to deliver happiness:

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While Flipkart enables them to prepare for challenges that the weather throws at them, they also have an unexpected one – due to the high number of people that cross the border every day, customers who expect deliveries may suddenly not be reachable.

Deepak Kumar, 23, has been a Wishmaster at the Raxaul Hub for the last two years. Having grown up here, he is familiar with the unique movements of the town. “Since we have regular customers, we are able to coordinate timings with them. Once they are back home, we go and deliver the packages to them,” he says.

The Wishmasters work in sync so they can navigate traffic, bad roads and vague addresses together. “Jitna accha Wishmasters humko miley hain, shaayad kahin aur nahin honge (Our hub probably has the best Wishmasters),” adds Manoranjan.

The rage of the river

Supaul district, Bihar

A little further south-east in the same state lies Supaul, which is connected to Nepal by the unpredictable Kosi river. Between 1959 and 1963, the Indian and Nepalese governments built the Bhimnagar Barrage at the border following several floods of varying degrees over the years. But even to this day, residents find it hard to predict the course of the river in the monsoons, as several areas get inundated along its course.

The Flipkart Delivery Hub in Supaul caters to the district as well as to towns and villages nearby.

Roshan Jha, the Team Lead at the hub, sheds some light on the challenges that they face every day. “Most packages come with very vague addresses, where just the name of the district and the PIN code may be correct. We then end up having to call most customers to ask for landmarks, and exact locations, but the Wishmasters do their best to deliver as many packages as they can in a day,” he says.

Delivery

Raman Kumar, 22, grew up in Supaul and is currently a Wishmaster in the region. He is familiar with challenges that come with the rains and floods. He recounts periods of the year that witness rainfall all day, and disrupt daily life.

“It is manageable near the town, but the areas close to the river get severely affected. We wear rain coats and other protective gear provided by Flipkart, protect our packages, and deliver them to customers,” he says.

Many customers also live across the river, but the Wishmasters ensure the safe delivery of their much-awaited packages.

“It is very time consuming, since nobody can predict the rains or the tides of the river. But packages need to be delivered on time and safely, and our Wishmasters do whatever it takes to ensure this,” adds Roshan.

The bridge to convenience

Digapahandi, Odisha

Difficult terrains and weather changes aren’t unique to Bihar alone. The Wishmasters at the Digapahandi Hub in Odisha face a similar challenge, and find an unorthodox means of transportation to deliver some of their packages.

The Digapahandi town is situated at a crucial junction in the Ganjam district of Odisha. The Flipkart Delivery Hub located here delivers to customers in the town, as well as to many surrounding towns and villages that can now access the ease of e-commerce via Flipkart’s vast supply chain network.

Delivery

Balaram Malik, 28, joined Flipkart as a Wishmaster in 2015. He recalls the days he delivered to customers in the town he grew up in, before growing into his role as a Team Lead in the same hub.

While 20% of the packages that the hub receives are delivered in the town, about 80% are for customers who reside in villages, many of them close to the Ghodahada river.

“We have a lot of customers who order from the other side of the river. Most times, it is dry. The Wishmasters are able to park their bikes, walk across to the other side, deliver the packages and come back,” he says.

In the monsoons, the river floods over and cuts off easy access to the same customers. But Flipkart’s Wishmasters ensure that even in challenging times, the 10-12 families that reside on the other side of the river have access to what they need and desire — they travel an additional 20 km up and down to access a bridge that is the only link to these customers.

While it may consume a lot more time, the Flipkart hub ensures that when it comes to last-mile delivery, they bridge any gap they may encounter.

The secrets of the jungle

Chatra, Jharkhand

Chatra is known as the gateway of Jharkhand, with small towns in its periphery, which in turn are bordered by dense jungles. With an illustrious history that includes several notable events in India’s freedom struggle, it also lies along what is known as India’s Red Corridor.

Vishal Kumar Mishra, 30, used to work in a garment store before he had a conversation with his neighbor who told him about Flipkart.

“We deliver across town, but we also have several packages that take us to remote areas. Dusk sets in much earlier in winters, and is a challenge when it is combined with the cold winds and fog. We try to head home as early as possible,” he says.

Team Leads ensure Wishmasters are fully trained to take the routes they are assigned, and are in constant contact to be certain of their safety.

Delivery

The region also poses several other challenges, says Ajay Kumar Mishra, another Wishmaster from the same hub. Their routes often require them to pass by jungles. While Ajay sees nilgai and deer crossing the road on several occasions, he is always prepared in case there are other animals lurking close behind.

Vishal Kumar says he had never shopped online before he joined Flipkart. Today, he says, most of his daily essentials come from the app. The Wishmasters understand that while the region may pose some challenges, its residents also depend on the ease of e-commerce for packages that make their lives easier, and bear this responsibility with pride.

Trials along hilly trails

Udhagamandalam, Tamil Nadu

From dense jungles to rolling hills, Flipkart packages travel through a wide range of terrains before they reach their destination. What is scenic to most, could be challenging to others. Flipkart Wishmasters talk about the unexpected trials that come with one of the most beautiful routes in South India.


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Popularly known as Ooty, this hill station is as challenging as it is beautiful. Every year, people from across the country enjoy the serenity and scenic beauty that Ooty has to offer. While it is a traveler’s paradise, this town in the Nilgiris is also home to Flipkart customers who can now access products from other parts of India. This means their packages travel across hills, rivers and forests to reach their doorstep.

Delivery

Days begin early at the Ooty hub, as Wishmasters prepare themselves to deliver packages before the sun sets. The town seems to go to sleep early, with the absence of street lights in most areas.

They are also used to the winding roads and the occasional landslides – the Wishmasters and Team Leads work together and stay well informed of routes. But there are other challenges that they cannot prepare for. For example, routes that are cut off by the presence of wildlife that venture into the town or surrounding areas.

“Just a week ago, there was a tiger sighting. It wasn’t even late at night, it appeared at around 3 pm. Since it is an area I deliver to regularly, I had to manage handing them over the next day,” says Gifty Gerald, a Flipkart Wishmaster who grew up in Ooty and lives there with his family.

The team works like clockwork, keeping the forces of nature in mind as they prepare consignments. Since the region experiences rainfall and mist most parts of the year, the packages travel in water resistant delivery bags so they reach customers in good condition. Flipkart equips the Wishmasters with weather-proof and safety gear, and they keep a lookout for slushy roads.


Like in most other hubs, technology, team work and preparation play a huge role in navigating challenges and ensuring that orders are fulfilled to the thousands of customers that each of these hubs deliver to.

While the terrains across India may be different, every member of Flipkart’s supply chain, enabled by cutting-edge technology and safety measures, strives to provide consistency for customers to fulfill their dreams. Flipkart’s supply chain is designed to solve for the unique challenges that Indian terrains pose. Across every serviceable PIN code, despite terrains, across seasons – Flipkart delivers.


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