Dabbawallas have been delivering lunch boxes of hot food to workers in Mumbai for 120 years. The Indian delivery system is staffed primarily by illiterate workers, who pick up hot food from workers’ homes in dabbas (boxes) and transport them via bike and train across the city, delivering them to the customer’s office in time for lunch. Now, e-commerce giant Flipkart are partnering with this ultra-reliable workforce to improve their last mile delivery capabilities.
Dabbawallas are being trained to collect pre-paid marketplace shipments from Flipkart’s delivery hubs. They then deliver them to customer’s homes, and pick up their dabbas at the same time. The delivery men are famous for their efficiency, extensive knowledge of the city and collaborative approach: a typical dabbas will change hands up to six times en route to its destination and back again. Flipkart will eventually train their new workforce to use apps and wearable tech which will enable them to track their new delivery service.
Are there other uses for the expertise of these illustrious city workers?