Ashwini Gangal

Google Salutes E-Commerce's Deliverymen

Through its latest digital campaign, #SpecialDelivery, Google India pays a tribute to the unsung middlemen whose job it is to bring us our e-comm goodies. We spoke to Google India's Sandeep Menon about the effort.

In the wake of GOSF or Google Online Shopping Festival, Google India's annual e-event, the company has launched a film to celebrate the men who actually bring us our goodies at our doorstep - the uniformed deliverymen of Indian e-commerce.

Google Salutes E-Commerce's Deliverymen
GOSF was held between December 10 and 12. Over 450 merchants participated in GOSF this year and Google received eight to ten million unique visitors through the fest.

While the pre-GOSF film (#72HoursOfCrazy) fetched over three million views on YouTube, the current film, that celebrates the humble deliverymen of India's e-commerce industry, is quickly wriggling its way into online and offline conversations.

Published on YouTube on December 17, the film is titled '#SpecialDelivery: Celebrating the unsung heroes of online shopping'.

"This is an empowering campaign": Sandeep Menon, Google India

Google Salutes E-Commerce's Deliverymen
In conversation with afaqs! about how the film came about, Sandeep Menon, country marketing head, Google India, says, "E-commerce is made of three pillars - the e-commerce companies themselves, consumers like you and me, and the people in-between... the people who actually get the stuff from the companies and give it to us. When we were planning for GOSF this year, we thought of how this is one group of people in the chain that is not thought about often enough. In fact, many times we don't even say 'thank you' to them. That's when we thought we must do something to showcase the role they play."

Menon's team is currently in the process of giving out 500+ personalised helmets to the deliverymen. "All of them haven't been given out yet because it takes some time to print and personalise each helmet. My understanding is that we can manufacture around eight to ten helmets a day; so on a daily basis we're giving out around ten helmets," Menon says, admitting that there are indeed a lot more deliverymen out there, reaching all of whom is beyond the scope of this leg of the effort.

"I don't think we can cover all the deliverymen across India," he says, adding, "but we're covering most of the deliverymen who work for Delhivery," the e-commerce logistics services company whose deliverymen have been showcased in the film. Delhivery, we learn, was very involved with GOSF this year, right from the early stages of the festival.

"In 99 per cent of the cases, the actual delivery is done, not by the e-commerce sites themselves, but by third party delivery companies. We're tying up with these delivery companies to reward their employees," Menon shares.

afaqs! learns that overall, around 6,000 deliverymen made GOSF possible this year. Typically, outside of GOSF-like days, a single deliveryman makes around 20 to 25 deliveries a day. However, during e-shopping festivals like GOSF, the workload of the average deliveryman - or 'field executive', as the formal title goes - increases by around 10-15 per cent. "That's an extra load they take," notes Menon, "I don't think they normally get paid for it."

"E-commerce provides these deliverymen with a livelihood, a source of revenue. And most of these guys come from the hinterlands of India. This is an empowering campaign that's really about how the internet and the e-commerce ecosystem are helping multiple people," Menon asserts.

"We followed them home and surprised them": Rajiv Rao, Ogilvy

Google Salutes E-Commerce's Deliverymen
Google Salutes E-Commerce's Deliverymen
Google Salutes E-Commerce's Deliverymen
Rajiv Rao, national creative director, Ogilvy India, the agency behind this campaign, tells us, "Everything in the film is real. We actually followed the deliverymen home and surprised them. They had no clue what was happening. While they received the helmets, we filmed them."

Sukesh Nayak, executive creative director, Ogilvy India, explains, "We shot this film with real deliverymen. We interviewed about 30-40 of them to shortlist the ones we wanted to follow. We used some parts of our interviews with them as testimonials in the film. We used their answers to re-create the delivery experience to demonstrate what happens in their life."

Nayak hopes the film sensitises e-shoppers towards the problems of the deliverymen, something the experience of making this film has done for him. He shares a personal anecdote, "Previously, the delivery guy used to ask me to come downstairs to collect my parcel. I used to wonder why he can't just come up to my floor. But now I realise, it's because often there's no place for him to park his bike. Even if there is place, he will have to carry a 20 kg bag in a lift all the way up."

The importance of keeping the exact change ready for the deliveryman, when we choose the COD (cash on delivery) option, is another aspect Nayak is now conscious of when he orders online, thanks to this experience.

The film has been directed by Raaj A. Chakravarti and produced by Divya Babbar of @asylum, a Mumbai-based ad film production house. Incidentally, this is their first film. It was shot across Mumbai in chawls and SRA (slum rehabilitation areas) houses in suburbs like Malad, Jogeshwari and Meghwadi. In the days ahead, the initiative will be extended across other Indian cities.

Chakravarti tells afaqs!, "Getting their honest reactions on camera was the toughest part. I was always concerned about the emotions... and the reactions of the deliverymen and their families. It was an amazing experience."


Google Salutes E-Commerce's Deliverymen
Google Salutes E-Commerce's Deliverymen
In a nutshell: Kudos to the deliverymen. But the 'Thank You' idea comes across as all too familiar.

Komal Bedi Sohal, chief creative officer, Rediffusion-Y&R, says, "Saying 'thank you' to people who make our life easier is always a good idea. Deliverymen are the backbone of the online shopping industry. They are the only face online shoppers interact with. Celebrating and thanking the deliverymen should be an important ongoing strategy for these companies - not just a one-time viral stunt."

She adds, "This idea has already been done as a digital film by Coca-Cola in its #ShareACoke - The Happiest Thank You campaign. Google has such beautiful stories to tell, especially after the partition film... so why would they tell the same story as Coke? The idea behind this film is to give personalised helmets to say 'thank you', just like how Coke gave personalised bottles to do the very same - the idea is the same."

Sudhir Nair, senior vice president and head of digital, GREY group India, concurs, "I think it's a good idea to pay a tribute to them. But isn't this done to death?" He adds about the execution, "It is average. It could surely have been shot better. The tribute should have been different... more personalised; something beyond a helmet with their names on it. Besides, is gifting the only way to pay them a tribute?"

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