A month after delivery boy's murder, Flipkart launches new SOS feature

Amazon's India rival, Flipkart, has launched Project Nanjunda, a unique safety initiative for its delivery boys — the backbone of any ecommerce business.

Flipkart field execs, also known as Wishmasters, will now have access to an SOS button on their mobile app. It can work over a normal cellular network without data connectivity, thus making it more viable. Called the Nanjunda Button, it will trigger an alarm to the nearest hub-in-charge in case of an emergency, Flipkart said in a statement.

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The project has been named after the deceased Wishmaster, Nanjunda Swamy, who was murdered by a customer when he delivered the package as he wanted to buy a smartphone but didn't have any money. In India, you can order an item online and pay for it at the time of delivery.

India's ecommerce sector reportedly employs more than 100,000 delivery boys and has witnessed a 200-300% jump in recent years. Flipkart is said to be the biggest employer and operates its own logistics arm, Ekart, which does daily shipments of around 30,000-40,000 packages.

However, the Bangalore-based startup has often been criticized for not doing enough for its delivery executives, typically boys aged between 18 and 28 years.

In July 2015, many of the Wishmasters had gone on a strike against poor working conditions. Some, mostly bike-riders, even complained that they were not provided medical assistance in the event of an accident.

Many executives have even refused to deliver in areas like Noida and Ghaziabad close to the national capital where "buyer-end malpractices" are allegedly high. From fake addresses, thrashing and looting delivery boys to not making cash-on-delivery (COD) payments and last-minute cancellations, ecommerce firms have a lot at stake.

Sometimes delivery boys are ready to trade a good pay for safety. They prefer Delhi over "unsafe" Noida and Gurgaon. Thus, Project Nanjunda is not only timely but also significant.

"Ensuring their safety is a primary priority for us. Over the days following the demise of Wishmaster, Nanjunda Swamy, our teams have worked relentlessly to deliver this feature in less than a month – in order to ensure our field staff is safe while on their delivery trips," said Nitin Seth, Chief Operating Officer, Flipkart.

RELATED: 10 items you should never buy online

11 PHOTOS
Items you should never buy online
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Items you should never buy online

Flowers

Although it may be more convenient to purchase flowers online, if you have time, it's best to locate a local florist near the person you want to send flowers to. According to a study by Cheapism.com, you're more likely to pay less and receive a better bouquet for your money when you use a local florist. 

Photo credit: Getty

Furniture 

You may not realize it, but when you purchase furniture online, you also have to pay for delivery and surcharge fees. In order to avoid paying these unwanted costs, it's easier to get it in person. For example, when buying furniture in-store, you're able to negotiate a better price and maybe even convince the salesperson to throw in free delivery. 

Photo credit: Getty

Groceries 

Much like shopping for flowers, it is best to purchase your groceries at an actual grocery store. When you purchase them in person, you have the opportunity ensure you are choosing the best meats, produce, etc. -- something you can't do when ordering online.

 Photo credit: Getty

Swimwear 

As beach season rapidly approaches, you probably want to invest in a few new swimsuits. However, before you make that online purchase you'll want to heed this warning. Trae Bodge, senior editor at RetailMeNot, says, " Fit can fluctuate even among suits from the same brand...  and many online retailers don’t allow swimsuit returns if the packaging has been opened or there’s evidence the suit has been worn." 

Photo credit: Getty

Social Media Followers 
We get it, social media is addicting.  While it may be cool to have over 10,000 followers, buying them can be risky. Depending on the social media site you are using, the followers you purchase can be deleted if they are considered spam accounts. 

Photo credit: Getty

Prescriptions 
Unless advised by your doctor, you should avoid buying medicine online at all costs. It can be tempting to get off-brand products, but you may be unknowingly purchasing illegal or counterfeit drugs. 

Photo credit: Getty

Cars
The internet has made it possible to cut out the middleman when dealing with major purchases, but sometimes, that salesperson is needed. If you're buying a car for the first time, it may be best to get it at a dealership. When you get a car online, you're taking away the opportunity to test it out first and negotiate a better deal. 

Photo credit: Getty

Knockoff Accessories 
While getting counterfeit bags and jewelry is cheaper than buying the real thing, you should do so with much caution. Oftentimes, these items are sold on unsecured sites which can lead to either your computer getting a virus or your identity being stolen. 

Photo credit: Getty

Pets
While you can find an array of pets being sold online, it is always safest to purchase one in person. Much like furniture, you may have to deal with excessive delivery fees, and what's more, your pet can get sick or even worse. 

Photo credit: Getty

Fragile Items
If you're truly invested in a fragile or irreplaceable item, it's highly recommended to buy and pick it up in the store. This cuts out any chances of a delivery person dropping and breaking your prized possession. 

Photo credit: Getty

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