Dabbawalas sorting tiffin lunch boxes before delivery in front of Churchgate railway station in Mumbai
Lou Jones—Getty Images/Lonely Planet Images
April 14, 2015 5:02 AM EDT

Delivering over 200,000 home-cooked meals a day across one of the world’s largest and most-crowded cities (and also picking up and returning the empty containers) is no mean feat. But that’s exactly what the dabbawalas — or “tiffin carriers” — of Mumbai do with clockwork precision and an organizational system that many large companies would do anything to possess.

They’ve even been awarded the Six Sigma seal of approval, earned for making just one error in every 6 million deliveries.

So it’s no surprise that India’s equivalent of Amazon, Flipkart, is now looking to take advantage of that astounding precision to deliver packages to its customers and get an edge over rivals, like, well, Amazon itself.

Flipkart has teamed up with the Mumbai dabbawalas, Reuters reports, enlisting their services to enable quicker and better “last mile” distribution.

The deliverymen will deliver parcels assigned from Flipkart hubs across the city, along with their usual pickup and drop-off of lunch boxes. They will initially only be assigned prepaid deliveries and are currently using a paper system for logistics, but the goal is reportedly to transition to apps and wearable technology down the line.

“The dabbawalas of Mumbai are one of the most reliable and trusted brands in the city. Their unique delivery system has been smooth, reliable and has survived the test of time — even under extreme conditions,” stated Neeraj Aggarwal, Flipkart’s senior director.

If you’re not familiar with the consummate organization of the dabbawalas, check out the video below. Even Amazon could have a hard time matching that.

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Write to Rishi Iyengar at rishi.iyengar@timeasia.com.

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