Companies have begun to experiment with different services to overcome this challenge. Amazon India is running a pilot in Bangalore where its online customers can pick up orders from the small retail shops that dot the streets of Indian towns. It is also testing out a pickup service in Delhi and Mumbai, where customers can choose to claim their orders from Bharat Petroleum fuel retail outlets. In May, online marketplace ShopClues partnered with offline payments and remittances company Suvidhaa to collect cash payments before delivery of product from online buyers through the latter's network of over 65,000 small retail outlets spread across about 2,500 cities and towns.
Jabong is putting in place a series of processes for the pickup service. "We have built the technology platform through which we can put in place checks and balances at each handshake point," said Sinha.
The platform will help the company keep track of orders reaching the pickup centre and ensure that the order is handed to the right customer. Partners will be paid for every order they fulfil.
While such services are becoming a necessity, experts warn that issues like the service partners' ability to handle cash-on-delivery and technology can be problematic.
"How will they provide such services profitably and at scalethat's the challenge," said Alvarez and Marsal's Saigal. Jabong's Sinha said he is aware of the complexities and hopes to refine the process with the pilot before scaling it up. "The need is there in these small centres," said Sinha.