Festivals are around the corner, get prepared to deliver volumes

With the festivals waiting right around the corner most brands in India, like every other year, will experience the highest sales of the year during September to December. Increased economic activity would simply mean a huge volume inflow to all the logistics company. The surge is even more high spiked in case of express delivery companies lifting major chunk of their load from the e-commerce companies. Be it a 3PL, Parcel delivery Service or a local transporter; every logistics providers has got one good month to reinforce their end to end delivery network. While line haul connections (movement of load from city of origin to destination city) are required to be shored up a little, last mile calls for a special attention. In the times of volume surges, last mile delivery network is generally the first to chock up if special attention is not being paid to it.

Looking at last mile from an express delivery company’s standpoint, there are multiple levers which need to be calibrated so as to have an untroubled season. First of all, demand has to be forecasted so that delivering capabilities can be beefed up accordingly. A lot of extra delivery resources are required to be on-boarded and trained as per the demand projections. Volume holding capacity of the network of branches is to be re-evaluated so that temporary arrangements for holding the load can be made in time if required. All under the roof processes of load in-warding, scanning, sorting, out-scanning, route planning etc. are to be reworked so as to avoid any potential bottleneck in the whole delivery chain. Data and inventory management needs to be reworked because with high volume there is a greater risk of mis-management of these two prime variables of the entire delivery equation.

Doing all this will not ensure a successful season, it is only the preparation for a successful season. To materialize this success, every single stakeholder in the entire delivery network need to push really hard on every single day of high demand for the coming few months. It is possible to drive such strong motivation at every level of organization but it sounds like a plan with no back-up.

So, why not give technology a change. Now a days, there are solutions available in the market which can digitalize the entire last mile delivery operations. One can completely eliminate paper out of the every leg of their delivery operations alongside having real time data transparency about their delivery performance. Route planning can be automated, delivery resources can be tracked over a map, end customers can be better engaged with delivery time prediction and live shipment tracking, Vendors attendance and payouts can be reconciled in seconds, and delivery data can be processed and represented in forms of nice pie-charts and graphs so that it is easier to point out deviations and corrective measures can be taken in time. Without spending a lot over research and development, one can now have the ability to be agile by binding his entire delivery network with one single string.

From middle management point of view, it is always easier to plan, reinforce and execute when the relevant numbers are nicely stacked in front of your eyes. Numbers come handy to bypass the error of manual judgement or the pull of opinion righteousness.  From top management point of view, it is an amazing strength to be able to monitor, evaluate, control and influence the delivery performance across the country by using one single laptop and nothing else. Such is the power of technology. Such is the power of QDMS.

Seasonal spikes are a recurring phenomenon in logistics. When it comes to spikes and surges, companies with agile supply chain network will be able to make the most out of these seasonal opportunities. Investing on technology today will have great dividends in future. Set up a strong foundation of data driven supply chain and have a happy Diwali.

Intracity Logistics – What’s the big deal?

SDASAS

Did you ever get struck with an idea which you felt would create a lot of value for the consumers and other stakeholders but then you rejected it because logistically, it did not make sense. To put it differently, the logistics services available in the market at that point of time weren’t up to the mark to support the disruption you had in mind.

Meet Mr. Bhavik. Bhavik wants to set up a business of selling furniture online. Bhavik has a good experience in the industry. He knows the market, understands the customers, understands the supply side and has a strong network of carpenters and a solid design team on-board with him. Still Bhavik is not able to start because he is not sure how he is going to deliver the furniture to the end customers. He tried contacting standard logistics providers but couldn’t find a suitable solution for himself. Then he turned to 3PL agencies but no one is interested in working with Bhavik because the scale of operation is too small for them to consider. He then investigated the case with local transporters but got scared of their way of functioning and poor service levels. Now, Bhavik has no choice but to start a logistics company along with a furniture business.

Logistics in India is at a very nascent stage and intracity logistics is still taking shape. Intracity logistics is not just about delivering parcels in 30 minutes. It is about solving the actual business challenges such as faced by Mr. Bhavik or any other business for that matter. It is about building capabilities to seamlessly execute any sort of goods movement irrespective of its scale and size. Intra-city logistics is $ 30 Billion market and organized players (all the new age start-ups combined) has lesser than 1% of representation in this big pie.

Looking at the current scenario, majority of intracity logistics industry is ruled by local transporters.  There is literally no technological intervention, no standard process, no transparent pricing and no quality service. Big organizations have the bandwidth to dive into the last mile logistics operations or at least they have enough bargain to enforce their service standards on transporters they appoint for the job, But small and medium enterprises has no choice but to kill there expectations. There is a strong need for comprehensive, hassle-free and cost-effective intracity goods movement service which is free of the constraints of size, shape and volume of the goods.

If every other retailer/trader/manufacturer is not able to grow his business because of the logistics problems, then it is a big dent on the Nation’s economy. Recent few years has marked the beginning of evolution of intracity logistics. There is so much that this industry is yet to see. It will not happen overnight. But every step taken in this direction will have a strong positive effect on business environment and nation’s economy.

Customer experience will not go un-noticed

Customer Exp

Uber revolution has re-defined the importance and impact of customer experience. Those who failed to adopt this new reality were all run over by the wave of superior experience of booking a cab. Customer centricity, in general, is the fundamental principle for every business.

Curious case of Logistics Sector

But, Logistics on the other hand is an interesting sector because a logistics company is generally serving an end customer who belongs to another party. A logistics provider, generally, is a bridge between a seller and an end customer. It gets further interesting to see that actually it makes little sense for a logistics provider to incur extra cost for improving the experience of the end customer because, end customer is not the one who is going to clear the bills. Bills are to be cleared by the seller (Clients) and a seller, mostly, is not ready to pay extra price to improve the delivery experience of end customer.

Customer is still a king

While the above mentioned arguments for not investing in customer experience are valid and probably makes sense, Customer Experience is something which is not to be traded. A customers, who is expecting his shipment to arrive wants to have a real time track of the location of their goods. Giving a 9 Hour time window to deliver the goods is not enough, customers now prefer to know the precise time of delivery of their shipment. They wants to be listened to and share their feedback which they expect would be acted upon. Definitely, those who can match these expectations, will have a better shot at tapping into customer/client loyalty even in a price driven sector such as logistics.

UPS recently marked the beginning of this revolution by announcing that they will be providing their customers with real-time tracking of their deliveries on a map – what they are calling “Follow My Delivery.” While it is a good to have feature for every logistics service provider but not so easy to adopt . Every other business do not have millions of dollars readily available, to be spent on research & development to create in-house something like what UPS has just rolled out.

This is where Quifers comes in:

Quifers is empowering enterprises by providing capabilities to all businesses that were previously only available to companies like Amazon and Uber, by enabling them to enrich their existing infrastructure without having to spend millions of dollars and precious man power on development. Quifers empowers businesses to improve their delivery experience while reducing overall cost of last mile delivery operations. Quifers’ optimum routing engine alone is proven to reduce up to 25% cost of last mile delivery operations. More than direct cost reduction, Quifers Delivery Management System (QDMS) helps enterprises to save tones of precious man-hours by replacing traditional paper based delivery process with a lean and digitalized process powered with delivery planning automation. QDMS also helps enterprises to elevate their delivery experience by intimating customers about the precise time of delivery (after accounting for real time traffic condition) and live location of their system.

New realities of changing customer expectations about their delivery experience are here to stay. Hence, it is better to adopt the change and ride the waves of revolution before it’s too late. A wheel has already been invented, we only have to get it rolling.

Delivering Faster. Better. Cheaper.

Trend-3-The-Reinvention-Of-The-Post-Box-10

Last mile delivery operations contributes about 2/3rd of the total logistics cost involved in moving a parcel. The way current industry processes are designed, it takes a lot of manual planning and paper based reporting for deliveries to happen. These delivery processes are a bit conventional and designed in consideration of market conditions and technological capabilities which were existing 10+ years ago. We, At Quifers, recognized the challenges faced in LMD operations by a majority of express delivery and 3PL companies and engineered a comprehensive solution to champion them. Some of the major challenges are:

In-efficient Delivery Planning

Challenge: As per current LMD (last mile delivery processes) total catchment area to be served by a DC is divided into a set of fixed routes. All these routes are typically allotted a fixed number of delivery resources based on historical demand maintaining some buffer. Now as daily load per route keeps on fluctuating, resources going out for delivery remains the same. This way of delivering results in sub-optimal delivery resource utilization which is as low as 60% in certain cases.  Even if we keep load fluctuations aside for a moment, process of manual delivery planning via route bifurcation has inherent in-efficiencies with reduces the overall productivity of delivery resources.

routing

Remedy: Quifers delivery management system comes with a powerful routing engine to automate delivery planning and save cost via creating an optimal delivery plan. Routing logic is such that it factors in a number of business constraints such as Traffic conditions, working hours of delivery resources, Delivery time slot, weight and volume of shipment, load carrying capacity of a delivery resource, lunch breaks etc. and generates DRSs (delivery run sheets) so as to reduce total cost of delivery. Delivery resource utilization is soared up to 95% and approx. 20-30% cost reduction in LMD operation can be expected through routing engine.

Tedious reconciliations

Challenge: Attendances and payouts of delivery resources are typically managed via log-sheets which creates a reconciliation bottleneck. Thousands of productive man-hours are wasted for just to cross-verify the entries made in log-sheets at the time of reconciliations. In many other cases, where logistics providers are manually updating the delivery statuses at EOD, even inventory reconciliation turns quite challenging.

Remedy: QDMS comes with a complete module to digitally manage delivery resources. Daily attendance, working hours and Kms covered by delivery resources can be easily recorded. Vendor payments can be reconciled on a click of a button. It saves a lot of man hours freeing resources to be assigned to other important tasks. For inventory reconciliation, QDMS digitalizes the entire LMD process and inventory is reconciled in real time with every status update.

Segregation and Sorting

Challenge: Segregation and sorting is a time taking process. Typically express delivery companies run two levels of sorting typically termed as primary sort and secondary sort. Primary sorting is to inward goods and segregate them as per pre-defined delivery routes; and secondary sorting is for selecting and allocating goods to a delivery resource. Sorting operations eats up around two hours of would be productive delivery time, hence driving down delivery resource productivity even further.

Remedy: QDMS comes really handy if you are specifically looking to employ leaner operational processes. It completely eliminates the need of two level of sorting because at the time of first scanning (goods inwards scanning) every item is directly allotted to the already created delivery run sheets. Meaning, goods are ready for dispatch instantly after the completion of goods inwarding process. Hours saved here are directly added to the delivery time of delivery resources which increases the productivity even further.

False Reporting

Challenge: It is very difficult to manage manpower. Delivery boys have a tendency to false report the reasons for not delivering a shipment. Many times, they would report that the customer was not present to receive the shipment without even visiting the customer’s place. This obvious, well known yet neglected fact increases the number of attempts to deliver a shipment. But, clients are not paying for attempts, they are only paying for a parcel.

Remedy: QDMS automatically geo-fences all your delivery addresses and a delivery boy will not be able to update the shipment status if he is not inside that geo-fenced territory.  Auto geo-fencing of delivery territory has been proven to reduce the false reporting instances by 90%.

Reverse Pick-ups

Challenge: Different companies have different approach towards handling the reverse pick-ups. Some of the companies like to engage totally different resources which are to be dedicatedly used to handle reverse pick-ups only. Obviously, it’s a simpler way to handle things but not really cost effective. Other set of companies tries to use their LMD resources to do the pick-ups on their way back when they are done with the deliveries. This definitely is cost effective to certain extent, but it messes up with the normal operations flow big time and requires a lot of manual planning and man-hours contribution.

Remedy: QDMS’s advance routing engine enables enterprises to seamlessly manage deliveries and pick-ups with the same delivery resources. QDMS runs a check on real time load volume carried by a delivery resource at all delivery points and smartly plans pick-up so as to reduce the redundant miles to be covered by a delivery personal. It not just saves fuel and work hours of delivery resource, but also frees up the management bandwidth which was earlier dedicated to planning pick-ups.

Neglected End Customer

Challenge: When delivery processes are designed based on business constraints, customer experience generally takes the back seat. Success of a company depends on how they treat their customers/users. In the e-commerce deliveries, where everyone is burning cash, Bluedart is able to charge premium mostly because they put customer satisfaction as their core priority. End customers can be better engaged by communicating them a precise time of delivery and giving them an excess to the live location tracking of their shipment. If it is possible to collect feedback about their delivery experience to be acted upon, then there is nothing like it.

Remedy: QDMS is all about customer experience and offers a range of functionalities for the same which can be tweaked and customized as per business requirements. When deliveries are managed via QDMS interface, customers are intimated about the precise time of delivery and real time location of their shipment. QDMS also sets up a seamless communication channel between a customer and the delivery person who is carrying his shipment.

While the points mentioned above may not represent an exhaustive set of challenges faced by a logistics company in LMD operations, but they surely are some important few. Technology has the potential to infuse a great deal of profitability in the LMD operations, all we need is a progressive mindset and a reliable partner.