Interventions

India Post rides high as villagers shop online

In the past two years the 160-year-old postal giant has tied up with 400 e-commerce companies including Amazon and Indian giant Flipkart to deliver a diverse range of goods.
India Post rides high as villagers shop online

With technology penetrating quickly into the rural lives, the changes can be encountered reflecting the turns people face. Now when internet connectivity is being able to links thousands of village with each other sharing information and knowledge, it has even encouraged online shopping to an extreme.

Online shopping is changing the lives of people in rural areas and is breathing new life into India Post, the ailing state-run postal network, which has struggled with a huge deficit for years. In the past two years the 160-year-old postal giant has tied up with 400 e-commerce companies including Amazon and Indian giant Flipkart to deliver a diverse range of goods.

It deploys its vast network of about 460,000 employees across 155,000 post offices to take goods to customers in remote areas, often hundreds of kilometres (miles) from the nearest town. Government clerk Surinder Singh Yadav from rural Ula Hedi village in Neemrana district says the dawn of e-commerce has transformed shopping for his family, who now nudge him to order products they see advertised on television.

"These companies give us a variety we don’t get in our local markets, quality at competitive rates and a doorstep delivery," said Yadav, as he accepted a delivery of a spray paint machine. The absence of reliable private delivery companies outside the big cities led India Post to step in to fill the gap.

"Until recently, people in these rural areas had aspirations but no means to access the market," said Kavery Banerjee, secretary of India Post

"Now we are delivering women’s clothes and latest electronic gadgets even in the remote regions of country like Leh and Ladakh," she added. It has been a huge success, with parcel deliveries increasing 15-fold to 75,000 daily deliveries in the past two years. But India’s vast areas of rural terrain, where roads can be poor and infrastructure patchy, pose challenges to the digital revolution.

Most small post offices, like the one in Neemrana, depend on unreliable public transport to collect parcels from region’s bigger post offices. Postal workers use bicycles and old cloth mail bags which make it difficult to transport bigger or multiple parcels. Many rural Indians are still new to the Internet — up to a billion people are not yet online in the country — and are wary of e-commerce sites, preferring to hand over money only after receiving the goods.

 

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The Changing Face of Rural India