Authored by: Nishith Rastogi
With the growing popularity of online shopping and home delivery, there has been a steadily growing trend in omnichannel selling among brands. From introducing online storefronts to bringing in never-tried-before distribution methods, businesses are doing whatever it takes to fulfill the customer demand, even amidst the COVID-19 chaos.
The pandemic has truly pushed businesses to try innovative new ways to reach the customer and beat the rising competition. Businesses need to be nimble and reactive in decision making during these times to sail smoothly.
Consumer goods enterprises like Epigamia introduced D2C selling for their customers when retail stores closed down, skipping secondary distribution to retailers and wholesalers to expand its customer reach during the pandemic. Hyperlocal delivery businesses also adopted smart ways for ensuring contactless deliveries by initiating consolidated delivery to large apartment complexes instead of individual doorstep deliveries to adhere to the lockdown norms.
Many other brands have taken bold, agile steps to ensure smooth last-mile fulfillment and remain competitive despite the challenges thrown in by the pandemic. Businesses with a strong logistics system in place have been able to navigate better through the supply chain disruptions caused by COVID-19.
These pandemic-driven strategies indicate one thing—flexibility and adaptability is the need of the hour. Brands that can adapt quickly to market dynamics and fulfill customers despite sudden and impactful challenges can withstand the pandemic and continue to grow in the days to come.
Logistics, usually seen as a backend activity in supply chain management, has now taken the center stage, defining customer satisfaction and differentiating the best brands from the ordinary ones. Carrying on with old-school logistics systems will not be enough to cope with the challenges in a competitive landscape.
For enterprises in any kind of delivery business, logistics planning will have to be more strategic, data-driven, and real-time. Trucking and fleet management will also have to be more strategic and well thought. Businesses will have to find the right mix between in-house and outsourced fleet to achieve maximum cost-effectiveness in last-mile distribution.
Technology will play a major role in fixing the gaps in logistics that have come to the surface during the pandemic and streamlining day-to-day and long-term operations for supply chain enterprises in the coming times.
Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning solutions are transforming logistics activities, right from order dispatching, rider allocation, delivery route planning, and on-ground monitoring, bringing in more efficiency, consistency, and transparency in modern supply chains.
Historical data analysis can help businesses in identifying current logistical loopholes and chalking out better strategies in the post-pandemic times. Route planning software can help in planning shorter, more optimal routes leading to faster deliveries and lesser miles driven, thereby saving operating costs. Real-time fleet tracking solutions will enable close monitoring of on-ground operations, with predictive alerts that can prevent any possible mishaps.
Introducing AI in supply chain operations does not really have to be a big investment for enterprises anymore. SaaS-based models are enabling businesses to implement tech in logistics without spending a fortune. Compared to on-premise software, Software-as-a-Service is more flexible and easily deployable even in tough times like these. These solutions are Cloud-based, and the pay-as-you-go model allows businesses to scale up or down based on order volumes and logistics requirements.
Customer expectations for convenient shopping and fast and safe doorstep deliveries will continue, even after the pandemic subsides. The future of logistics and supply chain management belongs to brands with a long-run foresight, backed with reactive planning for sudden contingencies like this.
Leveraging logistics tech can go a long way for businesses in FMCG, retail, e-commerce, 3PL, home services, and hyperlocal food/grocery deliveries in optimizing day-to-day last-mile operations, improving customer satisfaction, and enhancing workforce productivity.
—Nishith Rastogi is CEO, Locus. The views expressed are personal
(Edited by : Ajay Vaishnav)