By: Dr. (Col) John Chenetra, President, SecUR Credentials, Jul 25, 2018

The risks involved with delivery boys will always remain high, but a good way to mitigate the odds of an incident is to properly and thoroughly conduct background checks on current and prospective employees through what is called the Doctrine of Negligent Hiring.

Indian retail in general and the e-commerce industry in particular are witnessing growth rates which are unprecedented in any major economy in the world today. India’s retail sector is conservatively expected to cross the USD 1 trillion mark by 2020 according to leading analysts which amounts to a 20% growth each year, far outpacing the likes of USA, Japan, Germany, and even China. Given numerous instances in the media of crimes being committed by staff representing major e commerce sites, would be safe to say that the e-retail sector’s growth is far outpacing its own ability to properly manage itself.

This is particularly with regard to its logistical networks, which is perfectly understandable given the herculean task at hand. Of the multitude of issues the e-commerce industry faces, none is perhaps as pressing, or as overlooked as the task of properly vetting the ever expanding logistics teams, particularly those who come into contact directly with customers i.e. the delivery boys.

As a demographic, delivery boys are a particularly risky group for any employer- they’re young, adolescent males, usually migrants, living as paying guests, with limited knowledge of traffic rules. As a result, they are likely to have statistically higher percentage of criminal records over the general population. Moonlighting i.e. working for two or more organisations is common with this demographic, as is a high rate of attrition given their economic situation.

Furthermore, they’re often not direct employees of the e-commerce company itself, but of its logistics partners. This group is poorly educated, meaning basic etiquette is unlikely. As a result, delivery boys put e-commerce companies in a very dicey situation; they are the backbone of the business and the only human point of contact between the organisation and its customers, simultaneously, they’re the most likely part of the company to be incompetent or criminals. This entire situation involving one of the country’s biggest industries and largely unregulated logistics companies with possible criminal elements, all in the full view of the end consumer, is a disaster waiting to happen.

The risks involved with delivery boys will always remain high, but a good way to mitigate the odds of an incident is to properly and thoroughly conduct background checks on current and prospective employees through what is called the Doctrine of Negligent Hiring. Here are a few simple parameters that make for an effective screening process:

Identity Verification
Determining whether the candidate, in this case the delivery boy is who they say they are is the first and most crucial step to any background verification. This involves checking the authenticity of their home address, cross referencing their government issued identification cards like Aadhaar, PAN, or drivers’ licence, and gathering character references and employment certificates from their previous place of business. Any irregularities should be treated with utmost suspicion.

Educational Credentials
Many candidates have admitted to submitting resumes that are embellished with false academic credentials, false information or fake data to make them look more impressive than they really are. While high levels of education are not necessary, they are an indication of sincerity and superior intelligence, which is why it is important to verify their authenticity, even when hiring delivery boys.

Criminal Record
The most important thing for employers to look for is whether or not a potential delivery boy has a history of criminal behaviour especially because they are entrusted with valuable goods. A good way to start is to check existing police databases and online court records in order to determine their involvement in criminal cases, judic00ffffocesses, and registered FIRs.

Psychographics are a means of ascertaining a person’s psychological attributes, such as their personality, values, interests, and opinions. They are an excellent way to determine whether or not a delivery boy has the integrity, temperament, and character that the company deems adequate for the task at hand.

E-commerce in India is bigger than anyone could have ever deemed possible, and it’s set to expand even further for the foreseeable future. To make this transition as seamless as possible it is necessary to tie up all loose ends now rather than wait for this issue to spiral out of control, especially because we’ve been down this path before. Over the period of 2015-2016 the taxi aggregate industry came under fire by the media and general public because of cases where drivers where accused of sexual assault on female passengers. Further investigations concluded that they had not been properly vetted by their employers (or partners as they call themselves) resulting in severe backlash against the companies themselves. If the e-commerce industry is to avoid a similar fate, it is necessary to implement the Doctrine of Negligent Hiring with immediate effect.