We asked Instamart’s sellers about what drives these efficiently timed deliveries and the female staff who are ensuring this level of customer satisfaction. Here’s what we learnt.
On average, an Instamart order gets delivered within less than 20 minutes on a busy day and within 10 on a normal one. While delivery partners get a lot of attention for quick deliveries, did you know an average order takes less than 4 minutes to be picked off the shelf, packed and kept ready for delivery? All thanks to the Pickers who work efficiently at the Instamart’s seller-run pods*. And what’s more? This is one role that is increasingly being picked by women.
For the 700 plus women in this role at the pods, work begins around 7:30 am and ends by 4:30 pm. Women, according to the area managers, have been known to pick up and close more orders on an average compared to their male counterparts.
Take Shilpa Kalam,a picker at the Yemlur pod,who recently clocked 120 and more orders in one day, a personal best beating several of her colleagues. Ask her about work and whether she enjoys it, “There’s a different energy at the pod and for me every order is a challenge that I want to complete quickly. We are a group of seven women at this pod and it’s a lot of fun to be running around and putting orders together.”
At the pods that are owned and operated by the sellers on Instamart, more than 100 have women working as pickers.
So what’s a day in the life of a picker at the pod?
After checking in to work, each person uses their scanner to receive orders. Products at the pods are stacked in racks and the app guides the staff to pick items from specific rack locations and each staff member is trained in the first week of their job, so they are well-versed with where each item is stored.
Once an order is accepted the staff walks through the rows, scanning and picking the products. Once they have all that they need they take a photo of the orders and head to the billing desk. They then leave the bag in one of the pigeon holes and scan the QR code in that block. This informs the delivery partner and the customer that their order is packed and ready.
Once that happens, the security guard at the door scans a delivery partner’s app for the right order and hands it over to them.
Right from the moment an order is received on the picker’s scanner to the time they pick, pack and keep it ready for delivery — it all happens within minutes.
On an average, it takes 3-5 minutes to put a medium to large order together. The fastest orders fall between 1-2 minutes and vary in size.
Jugita Rani, another picker at Yemlur liked what she did enough to get her husband to join as well. Speaking about her job she says, “This is my first job and I joined as a picker in January 2023. Work gets busier on the weekend with many more orders coming in. When I started working here it took a few days to learn the store layout, but now I can close my eyes and find the product.”
Speaking about how technology has helped staff put an order together faster, Asif Wasim an area manager who overlooks a couple of pods says. “We are constantly using technology to make things easier for the staff. We now have scanners that each employee receives during their shift. They get orders on these devices and also use them to scan the QR codes that are available on each product,” he says.
While picking products, staff members are guides to the accurate product locations, they also see the product image on the scanner, this makes it easier for them to pick the right one.
More women in the role.
Explaining how women have been doing a better job in this role, Asif says. “Over the years we’ve seen that women tend to take this role more seriously. They are more efficient in closing orders quickly, they pick up more orders on an average, less unplanned leaves, and just the drive to work harder is stronger in women.”
The team also noticed that women tend to have fewer missing and wrong items in the orders they pack and are better at assessing fruit and vegetables quality before picking.
When the team was looking into hiring more female staff for this role, they had to ensure that the basics were in place. According to the team, the pods were made conducive for female staff. While a general hygiene check was done, they also conducted PoSH (The Prevention of Sexual Harassment) trainings for the workers there, sensitised them about the dos and don’ts before women were hired for this role. They also made sure that these pods were in areas that were safe, especially for women to come and go and female security guards were also hired..
So why the rise in women in this particular role compared to the rest? Asif says, “Unlike a delivery executive, this role doesn’t require them to drive or even know how to drive. They come to work, close their orders and leave, besides that the work timings seem to be working well for most women, especially those who have children at home and want to be more hands-on.”
So what do women like most about this role? Gayatri, who joined as a picker in December, 2022 says it is the rush she gets on completing an order that she loves the most. “From the time we receive orders to the time we scan and drop it in the pigeon hole it is really exciting. The role looks simple from afar but we play a crucial role in the entire process. While speed is of essence here, we also need to make sure that we are able to do a thorough job and get as many orders right,” she says.
Not many people know what goes on behind the scenes, once an order is placed. So next time you receive your order quickly, remember all the people who have been picking up the pace and orders at these pods.
*A pod is a retail space that is not open to customers. Pods are owned and operated by the sellers on Instamart to serve the hyperlocal grocery demands in that area.
Priyanka Praveen leads content for Swiggy's Employer and Talent Branding team. She comes with 11 years of writing experience having worked for Indian and International news organisations. She loves story-telling, is an avid embroidery artist and a wannabe baker.