Mumbai Dabbawallas Are Now Successfully Delivering Flipkart’s Products; But English Remains The Biggest Challenge


Flipkart ecommerce logo packaging-003

Exactly a year ago, we had reported the partnership between Flipkart & Mumbai Dabbawallas for delivering ecommerce products in the city. We had actually asked the question: Does such partnerships even makes any sense?

Now, after a year, we are back with news about this unique partnership between a traditional last mile service provider and a new age ecommerce company; and there is some encouraging news for both.

First of all, the good news: The partnership is doing fine, without compromising on the basic task which dabbawallas are famous for, which is delivering food/tiffin boxes to office employees of Mumbai.

Dabbawallas Have Not Stopped Their Traditional Deliveries

As per recent reports emerging, Mumbai dabbawallas haven’t quit their traditional deliveries of tiffin-boxes. Once their main chores are over by 6 PM, they pick Flipkart’s deliveries, and between 6-10 PM, they convert into delivery boys’ for them.

Initially, Dabbawallas faced transporting issues, as delivering on cycles was taking too much time. However, now, they have been provided with bikes, and thus, the delivery capacity has certainly increased.

As of now, each dabbawalla is delivering around 15 parcels a day. Soon, more bikes are being procured for the dabbawallas, so that the deliveries can happen faster. The success is now inspiring Flipkart to ask dabbawallas to deliver fresh fruits, vegetables and other grocery items as well, which require instant deliveries.

However, their biggest issue right now is not bikes or transportation; its English.

English Is The Biggest Issue For Mumbai Dabbawallas

Considering that every ecommerce portal stores their customers’ information in English, the address label on the parcels are also written in English. And it seems that this is the biggest issue with Mumbai dabbawallas are facing right now.

After the issue of transportation has been solved, Flipkart and Mumbai Dabbawallas are not battling to solve the issue of English.

Subhash Talekar, the general secretary of the Mumbai Dabbawala Association said, “The only trouble is most dabbawalas can’t read in English. Hence, only a few are delivering products currently. But as younger people join our workforce, dabbawalas more comfortable with the English language can do more deliveries.”

In case ecommerce portals wish to expand and grow at Tier 2 or 3 cities, then the issue faced by Dabbawallas can be an interesting case study to understand the challenges. Mumbai dabbawallas are less in number, and besides being a marketing tactics, it won’t make much difference to the overall product deliveries of Flipkart in Mumbai.

However, this issue can have major impact in other Tier 2/3 cities, where the only option left for deliveries won’t be able to read English.

Do you think English can be a major issue when it comes to logistics and shipping of ecommerce products? Do let us know by commenting right here.

  1. Pooja says

    It seems like a nice strategy, and I feel language should not be that a barrier in a city like Mumbai, else Flipkart could distribute specific locations in Mumbai to these men where English is not that highly used.

  2. Sheema Kumari says

    Launchbox movies proves that Mumbai Dabbawallas can manage these things easily.

  3. Achyut Menon says

    With translation facilities available, perhapsthe challenge of the address-can be overcome -by being transcribed in the local langauge!!

  4. Anubhav says

    I have to say that, Mumbai Dabbawalas have best Management in India. I’m sure that they will overcome this challenges too.


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