The logistics industry in India is getting considered as an epicenter of technology-driven transformation. In a candid interaction with Pushkar Singh, CEO and Co-founder of LetsTransport, Faiz Askari of SMEStreet explored the key drivers of transformation in the logistics sector.
Faiz Askari. What are your views on the role of technology in the logistics sector?
Pushkar Singh: Historically, logistics in India has been done in a very traditional manner with little to no technology involved – most processes being done manually, involving multiple intermediaries with no transparency, which results in a lot of inefficiencies. A very significant example of this is – if you look at the largest logistics companies in India, they are probably 4-5% of the largest technology-driven logistics companies of China or Japan. In any traditional setup – like a manufacturing plant, when you grow the scale of the operations, the efficiency levels tend to start decreasing as traditional processes are not robust enough to handle such scales. I believe technology is a disruptor which changes this effect, wherein it starts improving the efficiencies as your scale keeps growing. I believe technology is going to have the same impact in logistics, making it an improved, automated, efficient and transparent process. Automation, Internet of Things (IoT) and Predictive analysis, will help the logistics market to ensure reliable and efficient operations.
How did you get the idea of this business?
During my time in ITC, I was responsible for the end to end production of their cookies brand in their Bangalore factory. In the production of cookies, there are 100+ ingredients that are required. We were pushed for Just-in-time manufacturing. This led to a huge dependency on logistics to ensure ingredients reach on time.
However, logistics was done in a very primitive way; mostly through calls and pen/paper. This led to a lack of transparency, miscommunication and multiple delays, making Just-in-time manufacturing a pipedream. I realized that we were relying on several small vendors and individual drivers without any access to technology for our logistics movements. Surprisingly, there were no organized players operating in this industry which was a major pain point for many enterprises. Coming from a technical background, I genuinely felt the need for technology in logistics to drive reliability, efficiencies and optimizations. In short, the need of the hour was one of the motivating factor to turn this into a business opportunity and aggregate mini-trucks for urban logistics requirements of enterprises.
Will the National Logistics Policy be a boon to the Logistics Industry?
India’s logistics sector is one of the most important accelerators of trade. In fact, an effective and efficient logistics ecosystem is the key contributor to robust India’s economic growth which results in progressive global competitiveness and reduced economic disparities across countries. With reference to the pivotal role of the logistics sector in economic development, the National policy outlines an ambitious set of objectives.
Improving the first mile and last mile connectivity can be an enabler of market access expansion for small businesses, e-commerce leaders, FMCG sector etc. Enhancing efficiency across the logistics value chain through increased digitization, technology adoption and ensuring standardization in logistics can remove trade barriers. The ultimate goal of the National Logistics Policy will definitely be beneficial to the logistics sector in terms of time optimisation, competitive costs and maximise customer satisfaction.
How is LetsTransport helping enterprises to reach consumers faster?
We aim to help enterprises reach consumers faster and disrupt the primitive $30B urban-logistics industry by leveraging technology. We offer reliable, affordable, and professional logistics services structured to serve enterprises. Value-added offerings such as screened drivers, audited and GPS-enabled vehicles, point-to-point billing, status updates, 24×7 service, and higher efficiency, all at transparent and economical pricing enables us to offer customized logistics solutions to our clients.
With a growth of over 10% month on month, LetsTransport is, in fact, India’s largest enterprise urban-logistics provider in India, with over 3,000 Light Commercial Vehicles (LCVs) on our platform.
Can you mention some names of brands that LetsTransport cater to?
We offer tech-logistics solutions across sectors like organized retail, FMCG and e-commerce, distribution and 3PL companies. LetsTransport, as a brand, takes pride in offering services some of the well-known brands such as Amazon, Bisleri, Vishal Mega Mart, Future Supply Chain, Coca-cola, Delhivery, and Udaan.
How LetsTransport has successfully trained 35,000 truckers in India to drive maximum customer experience with last mile efficiency
Increasing deployment of trucks by network depth paves the way forward in creating aspiration and employment scalability for 35,000+ truckers in India. Empowering the truckers’ community has been a good experience. LetsTransport, as a brand, is known as one of the market leaders and first movers that identify and empathize with the underserved urban trucker community, making them a part of the mainstream economy. We also plan to further turn this into a beneficial partnership with truckers by providing overall wellness benefits and behavioral and technology training to truckers.
Challenges faced while ensuring the overall wellness, behaviour training etc for truckers etc
The demographic of the urban trucker base is very diverse – we try to ensure we are able to help as many as possible. We customize our driver training based on location, and in multiple languages. We have training centres for the drivers onboarded with us, wherein we not only give them extensive training on using our platform, but also help them in opening of bank accounts, using net banking, getting cheaper insurance products, helping them learn how to use online platform for tasks like bill payments, mobile recharges, etc. We believe that the tech and financial inclusion of our partners is not only additive to the growth of our company, but a massive step in bringing meaningful changes in the lives of our partners.
Any challenges faced in the process of real-time tracking?
There is some resistance to the changes happening in the ecosystem as adoption of technology and penetration of smartphones is relatively lower in the trucker community, which makes it difficult to have all the drivers on the same technological stack. This is where LetsTransport has invested, to enable drivers adapt to technology and enable real-time tracking of our fleet.
Detailed information on the expansion plans of LetsTransport
Most of the e-commerce, 3PL, Retail and FMCG companies have a significant presence in Lucknow, Chandigarh and Indore. We aim to work with 100+ medium to large clients in these geographies within 2 years. Additionally, we have extensively started building our supply base in the above-mentioned cities and in the process of reaching out to 1,000+ truckers within a month of setting up a team in Lucknow, Chandigarh and Indore.
This, in turn, will help us to expand our existing client base in these respective cities. Sufficient resources in these cities will not only drive efficiencies for our clients but also help our driver partners increase their earnings in a sustainable manner.