The article is contributed by Nilesh Ghule, Co-founder and CEO, TruckBhejo.
Over the last two years, primarily because of the pandemic, and deeper internet and mobile phone penetration there is an unprecedented surge in online shopping. As a result, the e-commerce market has boomed and is estimated to reach USD 200 bn by 2026, according to Inc42’s e-commerce report. It has also led to the growing popularity of the Direct to Consumer (D2C) business model.
Alongside this boom, a Mordor Intelligence report underlines that driven by the growth of manufacturing, FMCG, retail, and e-commerce, the Indian Third-Party Logistics (3PL) market is expected to register a CAGR of over 11.5% during the forecast period of 2020-2025.
This growing synergy between D2C brands and logistics providers is driven by the need for greater efficiency and speed with customers setting delivery deadlines that are shrinking every day, from 24 hours to 10 minutes. ‘Express Deliveries’ is the buzzword today, and with this in mind, Indian businesses, like their western counterparts, are slowly making the transition from horizontal to vertical integration.
Bottom-line over top-line
Earlier, the business strategy favoured the takeover of rival companies and the development of in-house facilities to expand in size and assert market dominance. Today, with the bottom line taking precedence over the top-line, and efficiency outscoring effectiveness, D2C brands are seeking third-party services to combat competition.
D2C as a business model relies on three important aspects namely core product, online selling experience, and offline fulfilment experience. It is in the third, the last-mile delivery stage, that tech-based logistics platforms are coming into play with the guarantee of delivering products in the most time and cost-effective manner through increased digitization and automation.
Tech-ing the shortcut
Just like robotics and sensors have streamlined operations in the warehouse, drones and driverless EVs could well revolutionize e-commerce supply chains in the future. For now, AI-driven tools like the Internet of Things (IoT), advanced algorithms, blockchain, and data analytics can be incorporated into operations to optimize routes, circumvent delays, and reduce empty miles.
TruckBhejo has, in just five years since its inception, shipped over 2 million tons, completing one million deliveries by leveraging technology. It even managed to satisfactorily complete a monthly order of 50,000+ products for an e-commerce major to meet increased demand during the festive season.
With customers raising the bar every day, the buck doesn’t stop at speed. It demands reliability and transparency too. The customer expects personalized communication via text and email to stay connected with the product from the time it leaves the warehouse till it reaches their doorstep.
Here again, tech-based 3PL players can provide great customer satisfaction through real-time updates that help them track the product right down the supply chain. Even if there’s a logjam, they are as much in the know as the supplier and transporter. This kind of visibility helps build brand loyalty which is imperative in a crowded market.
The road logistics market in India is expected to reach USD 330 billion by 2025, according to the 'Inter-city Logistics Market Study' by RedSeer. However, to ensure a seamless run, logistics tech aggregators need to come up with customized solutions to cater to clients who come in all shapes and sizes, demanding local, pan-India, and even global reach.
One way to do this is through smart packaging. Standardization in the size of the items and choice of packing material, with thermocol sheets and bubble wrap replacing bulky plywood or fragile glass cases, can bring down the burden of warehouse and transportation costs and scale up the volume of orders.
Plan for the future
The Indian logistics sector has one of the highest transportation costs at 14% Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The good news is that the government has come to its aid with the PM Gati Shakti—National Master Plan launched by PM Narendra Modi. Its aim is to break departmental silos and bring in more holistic and integrated planning and execution of projects with a view to addressing issues of multi-modal and last-mile connectivity. With better infrastructure, digitization, and pan-India mobile and internet connectivity, 3PL players can speed up their operations, helping D2C brands to thrive and grow.
While there is a steady growth in D2C business model adoption and e-commerce business, it is imperative for the companies to team up with the logistics players to ensure success and sustainable growth. A good logistics partner with tech-enabled solutions like TruckBhejo can provide unparalleled customer experience through speedy deliveries, timely status updates, and accommodating last-minute requests. Tech-led startups are adding immense value to the D2C brands by putting the technology into the use case and making various smart tools available to the customers. This “best match on the expressway” is ultimately ensuring delivery of not just the goods, but also of the customer experience and satisfaction.