Consumers seek convenience and connectivity
The E-commerce sector is quickly expanding with the adoption of new technology and, most importantly, client satisfaction.
E-commerce Logistics Summit 2022, the one-day industry conference was presented by FedEx, eShipz, Tech Eagle, Celebi, TT Trucking, smartr Logistics, Whistle Drive and Nimbus Post.
During the last two years, the volume of cargo in the airport has increased and Manoj Singh, Senior VP & Head - Cargo & Express, Mumbai International Airport - Adani Airports, spoke about how they are tracking down the E-Commerce cargo volumes for their data.
"Our cargo volumes have increased by 61%. We handle around 30-32 % of E-Commerce cargo internationally. As a part of the stakeholder ecosystem, the airport has a cargo regulation and a courier regulation. To separate E-Commerce cargo, we came up with AMAX Air Cargo Community Platform. We get information from the integrator, airlines, and forwarders in order to categorise these goods in a separate category. This allowed us to see that E-Commerce has been growing over the last three years," said Singh.
AMAX is a web-based platform that was first introduced in 2013. It is an electronic platform that connects Cargo Terminal Operators.
Many new start-ups and existing firms have benefited from the last two years, and they are currently thriving in the logistics and E-Commerce industries.
"Pandemic brought out the importance of players like PharmEasy for India. Also, we realised PharmEasy is one of the most important players in building the gap of health care in the country when (during the pandemic) medicines were not available at the stores and people were scared to move out. This was also a realisation for the government that an e-pharmacy is required for availability of medicines in every pincode of India," said Dhiraj Jain, Vice-President Strategic Sourcing, PharmEasy, an online pharmacy start-up.
API Holdings, the parent company of PharmEasy, gained final clearance from market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) in February this year to earn Rs 6,250 crore through an initial public offering (IPO).
The logistics sector today is considerably different from how it was a decade ago. Today, digitalisation plays a significant role in the logistics business. It is true that practically every business nowadays is dependent on the internet.
"Everything has moved from manual intervention to digital intervention. During my time in Baazee, we used to call the sellers to check what kind of packaging they used for the products, have they added the invoice, demonstrated instruction and more. And today we have bots responding to queries, we have whatsapp engagement tool that gives each piece of information of the order to the buyer," said Navin Mistry, Advisor, Shiprocket.
Mistry has over 20 years of experience founding India's early E-Commerce companies like Bollywoodauctions.com, PayPal and Baazee.com, a transparent online marketplace that allows consumers and sellers to communicate, exchange items and services, and provide feedback to one another, that became a 100% subsidiary of eBay.com in 2005.
Sadhika Kumar, Co-Founder and COO, PikMyBox, a logistics solution provider for E-commerce business, that enables export through India Post and express couriers with ease, said, "We are no longer looking at logistics as point A to point B. There are many people involved in the entire process and it is a disaggregated system because everything is digital to some extent, everyone has a digital system but it's just not all are talking together."
On one hand the globe is moving quicker with the internet and seeking for new innovations, certain parts of our country that are looking at making a huge move towards logistics but are still struggling with strong connectivity.
According to Apt Logistics' Director, Sabiha Mulla, the biggest hurdles in her future strategy are infrastructure and internet connectivity in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. "Now that everything is digital, what needs to be made sure in terms of infrastructure is that along with the coverage, are we offering enough backup with multiple service providers?," said Mulla.
Mulla's preliminary study about online shopping preferences in Port Blair began as a part of her doctoral research, and ultimately set into motion an E-commerce boom in the Andamans. Mulla's future blueprint for the Andaman region involves connecting residents in all the 36 islands in the region to the online shopping experience.
One important aspect in the E-commerce industry is reach and penetration. But can digital collaboration help seal the gaps in the current supply chain?
"Market information is very important. What consumers like and replicate that quickly is important because there are too many players in the market, consumers have a choice today. So the speed of providing technology solutions is important," said Meheriar Patel, Group Chief Information Officer, Digital Solutions, Jeena & Company.
Further there was a discussion about how data is important in logistics and how collaborative data helps suppliers perform better and provide good services to their consumers.
"For us to succeed in India, with new platforms coming in Tier 2 and 3 cities, the platforms and channels they are going through are more diverse than Tier 1 consumers. There are social commerce platforms and whatsapp enabled commerce coming up. So, people are going to buy from everywhere. So as a platform you have to support every channel and build a supply chain to mimic that demand pattern and go about building the network," said Harsh Vaidya, CEO & Co-Founder, WareIQ.
Next, Kamesh Peri, CEO, Celebi Delhi Cargo Terminal spoke at length about tech being added to warehousing, ground handling and cargo. "I have been in this industry for 30 years now so I have seen what the industry was in the early 90's and what it is today. These days, the processes are being enabled by systems. Today it is no longer a system of only the freight forwarder and the terminal operator but there is an attempt to integrate all through an air cargo community portal. The idea is to move from an individual to have a cargo community system. There are more developments to happen, innovations are to be done for an entire paperless transaction."
Maintaining Consumer Satisfaction
Customer satisfaction is critical for logistics organisations seeking a competitive edge since they understand that if they do not meet their customers' expectations, their place will be usurped by other companies whose operations will be more focused on customer expectations. As a result, logistics businesses must assure every facet of customer service, whether it is order acceptance, execution, or problem resolution.
Suvendu Choudhury, Managing Director, International Operations, FedEx Express spoke about the importance of customized shipping solutions to help businesses accelerate their cross-border e-commerce offerings.
"The Indian e-commerce industry is growing at an exponential rate with cross-border sales being a key contributor. FedEx plays a crucial role in connecting e-commerce businesses to a world of possibilities through the strength of our global network, tailored solutions, and value-added services."
"Today, businesses around the world are showing a growing reliance on fast, customizable, and cost-effective international delivery services. To cater to the evolving needs of our customers in India, FedEx introduced FedEx International Connect Plus, a day-definite, e-commerce shipping service that combines competitive speed with attractive pricing, and FedEx International Priority Express, a time-definite international priority shipping option that offers customers the flexibility to schedule their delivery time. By providing businesses with a broader range of shipping solutions and reliability of services, we empower them to expand their e-commerce capabilities to new markets and grow their customer base."
"We are attempting to be a single point of contact for D2C brands, from selling items on many platforms to ensuring D2C brands' post-purchase experience is taken care of. With the growth in demand, even if we undertake pre-purchase promotion, consumers will not remain loyal unless they have a satisfying post-purchase experience. In terms of consumer satisfaction, major firms like Amazon and Flipkart do not specify the time it would take to deliver the merchandise. Thus, WistleDrive is attempting to guarantee a delivery time and provide the goods with a buffer period of 15-20 minutes, so the consumer can plan their day accordingly," said Prashanth M, WhistleDrive's Chief Operating Officer.
Utkarsh Sharma, Co-founder, Dy. Chief Revenue Officer (North) commented on how they deal with E-Commerce today, last mile and quick commerce. "D2C is going to be a very big segment for the logistics players. Technology is supporting us today, but going forward training, process improvement and motivation of the last mile person is going to make the difference, because the way the package is delivered to the consumer's doorstep, also has a huge impact."
The industry experts also presented their thoughts on how to improve the consumer experience.
To this Amol Prasadi, Head of Supply Chain, Metro Brands said, "Sharing live locations of the delivery partner and an estimated time of his/her arrival will be a game changer. Secondly, not everyone is proficient in English language, so the consumers can receive messages in their preferred language/local language. Thirdly, consumers have different experiences with every delivery partner so let the consumers choose the delivery partner."
Yash Jain, Founder of NimbusPost, discusses the business changes he is witnessing and how his company is adapting to the trends. "Every company is working on ways to improve the entire consumer experience. Tracking and notification are two examples, since everyone is shifting to WhatsApp notifications. As a result, WhatsApp will play a significant role in D2C communication. One problem for brands is how quickly they can deliver. To improve their delivery performance, businesses are turning to distribution warehouses, stocks, and fulfillments."
The event mainly focused on how everyone involved in the logistics of delivering an item to a consumer should work together to improve the process, make it faster, and meet consumer demand.
This article was originally published in Indian Transport & Logistics News' May - June 2022 issue.