Logistics Is Likely To Embrace Digitization As an Effect Of COVID-19

Fundamentals of the business are made up of people, technology and available processes

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With the outbreak of the pandemic, people are going to largely be dependent on deliveries according to their convenience. In such a scenario, logistics across the nation including rural and urban must become organized for the growth of the Indian economy. Most of the segments of this sector are still unorganized and the huge disparity is witnessed in the mode of logistics. Entrepreneur India interacted with stakeholders in the logistics space to understand the current situation of logistics in terms of changes witnessed by them as the pandemic broke.

Fundamental changes in the logistics sector due to the pandemic

Anjani Mandal, CEO & Co-founder of Fortigo highlighted the severity of the situation. He acknowledged that his business recovered efficiently with two days’ loss of operations. He added that his team did its best to serve every customer, wherein, risk mitigation was their major part of the resilience strategy. Evaluating the organization’s position due to the crisis was the foremost part addressed by him. The outlook to understand the scenario was gauged and an ongoing crisis was deemed. This assessment made Mandal re-strategize operations and sticking to the fundamentals of the business was considered significant. He asserted, “Fundamentals of the business are made up of people, technology and available processes. It is necessary to understand people’s and customer’s interests as well as your suppliers.” Mandal shared that two functional calls were counted on by his team for business and operations.

Technology, safety, and awareness business prospects are dealt with Fortigo phenomenally to address long-distance logistics. Mandal further claimed that FMCG, agricultural and medical supplies were handled during the execution of logistics by his team. He summarized that engaging everyone while understanding the requirements of customers was the mantra of his organization to deal with the pandemic situation.

Initial reactions towards the challenges and approach to overcome them

Gautam Kapoor, COO & Co-founder of Shiprocket, affirmed that his business operations have switched to work-from-home. He stated that the logistics of the laptop and their Internet is taken care of to ensure smooth operations. Kapoor shared that his business partners are ruling out guidelines which were published for the customers to mention the safety measures taken by them to serve better. From the usage of PPE kits, temperature checks at other checkpoints have been used by them during the pandemic situation. He opined that this might be a costly procedure for his logistics partners and the amount of pressure may be high on them.

In order to understand the perspective on this subject Sidharth Agarwal, VP-Corporate Strategy & Planning, Ecom Express, was asked to share his viewpoint. According to him, there were many uncertain parameters that led to the formation of 6-7 teams within the company. Whether it was to secure shipments, protocols to be followed, interaction with the field executives or thermal fogging, every aspect was adhered to offer safety to the customers by Agarwal’s team. “There was a new business team that went out to deliver essentials whether those were essential packages from our existing shippers or on-boarding new sellers,” Agarwal mentioned about one of his strategies amidst COVID-19. The outreach programme was initiated by Ecom Express management to assure people about the retention of their jobs.

Facts that changed logistics segment due to the pandemic

Over 98 percent of field executives of Ecom Express were operated from home locations and they did not move contrary to various players in the market who did not have sufficient manpower. Tracking the criteria of containment zones, a number of zones, and which zones will move were some of the points to be reflected over by logistics. Constant communication with the customers and employees was the pressing need of the hour towards the unlock process by varied logistics organizations. E-commerce volume is up by 30-40 per cent for Ecom Express as stated by Agarwal. Amidst these notable points, Pushkar Singh, CEO & Co-founder of LetsTransport, shared the mechanism of his organization briefly before addressing the scenario for his organization. Being the aggregator of small trucks, his team makes sure urban deliveries of various brands is executed with precision. 

For him, the initial phase of COVID and its impact were two distinct factors that impacted his business. The apprehensions of drivers to take up the project led us to circulate masks and sanitizers.

Scope Of Innovation For Businesses To Catalyse During COVID

The market of logistics is worth $35 billion and it is a critical sector that enables us to get people to want. There has been a silver lining for this sector as funding, technology, driver-partners, and vendors who supplied played a crucial role in initiating quicker delivery at home. Ishpreet Singh Gandhi, founder & Manager Partner of Stride Ventures, reflected, “There will be a large momentum if you are able to maintain your margins while trying to perform with resilience.” Only 2-3 per cent of the logistics sector is organized and the severity of making it organized is a dire need to keep communication clear.

Surface transportation is the major change in the logistics sector and sellers have accepted this transition. In addition, digitization will gradually become an integral segment of this sector. As a result, most of the businesses will go online and innovative practices will take place. In the long-distance space, there are about 6-7 players who might not be tech-savvy. Hence, the initial stage of engagement is troublesome, but, online processes are executed smoothly, stated Anjani. The classic sense of platform business model will soon be a part of the Logistics sector supported by technology.

In terms of technology and innovation, drone delivery and other smart processes of logistics are likely to be implemented in the future.

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