Ecom Express, an end-to-end logistics solutions provider to the ecommerce industry, was incorporated in 2012 by T.A. Krishnan, Manju Dhawan, K. Satyanarayana and Sanjeev Saxena with their 100+ years of cumulative experience in the Indian logistics and distribution industry. The company has a turnover of over INR 350 crores and caters to more than 600 e-commerce companies. Ecom Express currently has 20 pickup-processing centers, close to 60 destination hubs and 1800 delivery centers spread across the country.
Being a last mile delivery service provider to the e-commerce industry, the company overcame the challenges of manual processes while driving efficiencies through mobility solutions. Let’s examine and explore their journey.
The business case
For a logistics solutions provider, the delivery associate is the only common touch point with the end-customer. The impact of inefficient last mile delivery results in low rate of delivery, low customer satisfaction, inefficient service affecting the overall profitability. Missing real-time visibility on field level operations is a great challenge as managing the delivery of shipments are critical part of business operations.
It was difficult to get real time updates of orders being delivered to end-customers from the delivery associates on-field.
Without any monitoring system, it was difficult to get real time updates of orders being delivered to end-customers from the delivery associates on-field,” says Rishi Sareen, VP – IT, Ecom Express.
It was also a task for the employees to maintain a lot of paper work and beginning from run-sheet generation to submitting of the cash reconciliation and delivery reports, a lot of time was spent on the admin work. Moreover, it was difficult to estimate the amount of cash that an associate had collected against payment for cash-on-delivery shipments. Since everyday remittance of cash is a crucial part of Ecom Express’ business, the unavailability of ready information with regards to cash collection was always a source of concern.
To solve all these issues, Rishi and his IT team championed mobility as a key strategic as well as a tactical solution. They knew that to serve the end-customers of ecommerce companies, it is important that the service providers reach out to the end-customers swiftly and efficiently, and to do this it was essential that they mobilize their day-to-day last mile operations.
Rishi guided the team in designing the framework and layout of an application named ‘SATHi’ (Service Accountability Transmission Handheld Instrument) to facilitate an integrated business process flow. He was also responsible for strategizing and overseeing the rollout plan while ensuring cost efficiency in the entire last mile management system. They went live with the native android mobile application running on associates’ smart phones in May 2016.
By introducing the managed service application, Ecom Express managed to boost customer service offerings. The propriety technology provides end-to-end visibility of the field force till the shipments are delivered to end-customers.
The end-to-end logistics solutions provided by Ecom Express constitutes first mile operations where shipments are picked up from customer warehouses and are brought to processing centers, where they are processed, bagged and handed over to Hub for onward connections to various destinations.
At the delivery centers where shipments are received from various centers/hub for deliveries to end-customers, the SATHi app provides delivery associates with digital run-sheets, planned route, end-customer addresses, navigation, and payment mode etc. to ensure a smooth delivery. This helps to reduce the dependency of field employees on office staff by giving full access to information needed for delivery and thereby, boost employee productivity with detailed information at hand.
Each operational step can be tagged with a digital proof such as geo-coordinates, digital signatures and cash collection by the delivery associates. These give the management real-time updates about the status of their field productivity allowing them to efficiently tackle unforeseen situations.
By automating the processes and the data, there is a reduction in the time spent on the admin tasks as automated reports get generated at the end of each day.
The last mile is a critical stage of e-commerce delivery and expediting the last-mile journey of shipments has ensured that business remains competitive and meets customers’ expectations. The fully digitized last mile operations with indigenously built mobile app integrated with core operations ERP ensures faster and real time updates, says Sareen.
“We developed the SATHi app to smoothen and fasten the process of the last leg of supply chain, thereby enhancing the end-customer experience,” he adds.
The ability of our last mile app to work offline too has proved beneficial in areas where internet connectivity is erratic.
The performance of the delivery associates driven by technology along with the quick information available to customers, has led to a transparent business practices appreciated by them.
The ability of the last mile app to work offline too has proved beneficial in areas where internet connectivity is erratic.
Digitization has also enabled Ecom Express to go paperless at the last mile operations as there is no requirement for maintaining delivery sheets. From digital signature applications to automated records management system, creating a paperless business environment is easily within their reach.
The in-house development of the app has provided cost benefits to the organization amounting to INR 2.8 million per annum (approx.) which would have been the cost to company, in case Ecom Express had opted to outsource the development of the last mile management system. “The 100 percent rollout will ensure a cost benefit of around INR 10 million per annum,” concludes Sareen.
All said and done, Ecom Express has added another feather in its cap!