MUMBAI — Online retailers jostling for a chunk of India’s $13 billion e-commerce trade are so desperate to avoid snarled roads and inefficient railways that they fly their packages in the passenger cabin of costly commercial flights. The cargo, however, often gets bumped off.
India’s largest domestic e-tailer Flipkart as well as bigger global rivals like Amazon and eBay Inc are widening their supplier networks or racing to build multi-million dollar logistics networks to circumvent crumbling infrastructure, keen to attract customers by shrinking delivery times to same-day or even as short as nine hours.
In the meantime, they remain at the mercy of commercial airlines, which frequently remove their parcels to make room for passengers, highlighting one of the challenges to expanding in an e-commerce market that consultants say is growing at a compound rate of 34 percent a year, and which saw online retail sales of $1.6 billion last year.
“It is unfortunate, but offloading does happen and we have to make sure our delivery promises take that into consideration,” Rahul Chari, vice-president, supply chain technologies at Flipkart, told Reuters.