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Supply Change: Innovation Driving Service Excellence In Logistics

Food, e-commerce, and even B2B logistics continue to evolve into faster deliveries and lower costs thanks to technology

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By Vaibhav Khandelwal

The growth that the logistics industry has witnessed in the past few years has been tremendous. The pandemic have proved particularly challenging despite the increased volume-share logistics has seen. The increase in demand has come in from newer geographies, and newer channels, with brands needing to reach the end-customer directly.  

This growth has been accompanied by customer expectations on delivery speed and experience. Food, ecommerce, and even B2B logistics continue to evolve into faster deliveries and lower costs. A lasrge chunk of this evolution is powered by technology. The level of accuracy we’re able to witness in demand forecasting and route optimisation and the simplification of multi-tiered tasks through intuitive APIs, is unprecedented to say the least.

In the past couple of years, we’ve experienced game-changing developments particularly in these areas:

Warehousing: The steady growth of ecommerce and direct-to-consumer brands has led to a shift from the large scale warehousing models. On-demand, small-format warehousing that is seamlessly integrated with different channels of demand, is driving growth for a range of businesses.

Demand forecasting: Driven by machine learning and powerful algorithms that analyse a fairly large quantum of data, demand forecasting has been a harbinger of real change for ecommerce and direct-to-consumer brands in recent times. It has helped logistics networks prepare for surges and balance out lean periods, and it has helped brands position their stocks in proximity to the key demand centres, massively reducing the delivery time and creating unparalleled customer satisfaction.  

Last mile delivery: UAVs caused quite a stir with their ability to eliminate human contact in short distance deliveries. However, the debate on the ethics and regulation of using UAVs in India has been rather strongly against their use.

Distances and traffic can shape customer experience in last mile delivery. And route optimisation changes that. It creates a smoother experience for the delivery partner as well.

Data Analytics & AI: In Indian logistics, we often encounter the unique problem of non-standardised addresses. Applying AI and using reverse geocoding to map them to make deliveries faster and more accessible has been a major breakthrough. Analytics have further enabled logistics players to ensure the best allocation of fleet, which impacts delivery speed and customer delight.

AI and ML tools are also being used to integrate workflows using intuitive APIs and having AI configure the backend ensuring a smoother customer experience.

Elastic logistics: The demand surges during sale periods, and a fast growing share of ecommerce has led to a greater need for logistics solutions that can be scaled up and down with minimal lead times. The pandemic year forced the supply chain to come up with alternatives to large-scale and fixed models in order to match the markets opening up, and closing down as the number of cases fluctuated.

While not purely a technological intervention, elastic logistics is definitely driven by data and supported by automations. It has been an agent of growth and expansion for ecommerce and D2C brands in particular.

It is an exciting time to be on the tech side of logistics and see how technologies are becoming instrumental in creating access and expanding the reach of logistics solutions that are economical, scalable, and that enable entrepreneurship across mediums and geographies.