Dock to Gate: Making the Last Mile the Best Mile in India

There is no doubt that the pandemic has greatly accelerated Indian consumers’ desire for e-commerce options. According to a report by Bain & Company, India’s e-commerce market grew by 25% in the wake of the pandemic, despite a two-month nationwide lockdown and multiple prolonged disruptions in the fiscal year ending March 2021.

This trend is here to stay and the rapid growth of e-commerce sales in India poses challenges for retailers to ensure efficient and cost-effective transportation of goods to the customer’s doorstep.

Last-mile delivery — the last stop in the delivery chain before packages arrive at customers’ doorsteps — is one of the toughest challenges for logistics. Businesses of all sizes are exploring the latest technologies and experimenting with supply chain models to increase package volume and accelerate deliveries that will ultimately meet customer expectations.

Package under pressure

Before COVID-19 disrupted international logistics strategies, last-mile delivery was seen as a benefit rather than a necessity. Now home delivery is the only way for brands to compete and meet demand. Consumers don’t just want to order things to their doorstep, they want next day delivery, specific delivery times, and being able to track the driver’s location.

In India, the term ‘Quick Commerce’ has become a buzzword. This is the delivery of goods and services made within 10 to 30 minutes of ordering. According to consulting firm RedSeer, India’s fast trade market is expected to grow 15 times over the next three years to become a $5 billion market by 2025. This shows that customers will not return to a company that does not keep its promises. time, misses delivery, or does not offer on-demand, weekend, or next day delivery options.

Consumers also expect highly accurate estimated times of arrival (ETA) and real-time tracking of their packages. They don’t want surprises; they want to feel in control of the e-commerce experience.

To top the list of consumer demands, consumers also now expect environmentally friendly delivery. Around 70% of Indian buyers surveyed by PwC describe themselves as becoming more environmentally friendly. They now consciously consider sustainability-related factors when making purchasing decisions.

As a result, companies now have a greater responsibility to meet customer expectations – from the retailer to the final deliverer. To do this, technology is the answer for any service provider who wants to survive – and thrive – in the new world of e-commerce.

Put a smile on the last mile

The last mile is the longest, most complex and expensive part of the shipping process. In fact, it can cost up to 53% of the total shipping cost of a typical package.

Not only are there huge logistical challenges for a business to send thousands of different packages to different addresses using dozens of vehicles and drivers every day, but even the best-planned route can be disrupted by traffic jams. unexpected events, accidents, road closures and local problems. events. This is where location technology can provide end-to-end visibility from the first to the last mile.

Companies that are already adopting tracking technology have their packages accurately tracked at every stage of delivery. This represents a huge opportunity for cost optimization and efficiency in last mile delivery.

For example, the Indian government recently announced that the national logistics portal will be integrated with the Unified Logistics Interface Platform (ULIP), with the aim of reducing the country’s logistics costs by making systems more efficient and expansive. This approach involves the integration of a total of 24 digital systems belonging to six ministries via ULIP.

Drones and autonomous vehicles are also being tested to support last-mile delivery, as they cover longer distances in shorter delivery times and have the potential to reduce the mismatch between demand and supply.

India’s new drone rules last year eased drone operations across the country, prompting tech companies to use drones as a new delivery alternative. For example, Zypp Electric, India’s leading electric vehicle-as-a-service platform, has partnered with TSAW Drones, an Indian startup that provides drone solutions for logistics, to deploy 200 drones for delivery. of the last mile in some Indian cities.

No unique logistics solution

Ongoing supply chain disruptions are forcing companies to channel investments into automated solutions in warehouses or distribution centers to increase competitiveness and reduce operating costs; Internet of Things (IoT) to provide end-to-end supply chain visibility, creating more efficient and agile supply chains; and sustainability-focused operations to ensure efficiency and reduce fuel consumption.

However, it is impossible to create a unified last mile solution for everyone because every end consumer is different. Instead, it’s important that solutions integrate and interoperate across platforms, so vendors and vendors can leverage the “platform of platforms”, while allowing creativity to generate new solutions.

Last-mile delivery continues to be important, and with location-based tools, businesses can extend their visibility and control for a diverse range of logistics operations – from dock to door; from restaurant and grocery delivery to post office to retail.

It’s time for businesses to digitize and harness the power of location technology. If the logistics industry has learned anything from the past two years, it’s that it’s ready for anything. While this may be impossible on its own, integrating a location-based supply chain strategy is not.