On-demand logistics has evolved significantly in the past few years and has become an industry buzzword, with its increasing relevance in today’s pandemic-ridden world.
Adopting on-demand logistics offers several advantages over traditional logistics, with lower operational cost and green footprint among the most appealing ones. The extensive use of digital technology, paperless invoicing, and effective delivery mechanisms are more such feasible factors that improve both the outcomes and the overall process.
Third-party logistics (3PL) providers are embracing the gig economy to deliver high-quality on-demand services with a mobile-first approach and technology being core to all operations.
Robotics has also emerged as an important feature in today’s logistics ecosystem, but the need for manpower still exists when it comes to tasks involving judgement and critical thinking. Hence, gig workers have turned on-demand logistics into a great match for 3PL providers.
Challenges and growth opportunities
India continues to face several challenges in traditional logistics processes that are still prevalent in many parts of the country. These challenges include higher total cost of ownership, excessive paperwork, and unreliable/unpredictable service-level agreements (SLA) for deliveries.
Most importantly, traditional logistics is asset-heavy, which leads to either heavy wear and tear on assets to achieve utilisation of key performance indicators or under-utilisation in the event of fluctuating demands.
These challenges combined with varying consumer expectations have paved the way for on-demand logistics providers to revolutionise the delivery experience.
On-demand logistics today strives to provide end consumers, even in Tier-II and Tier-III cities, with same-day delivery of a wide spectrum of goods ranging from groceries to consumer electronic products.
Even during the challenging times of a global pandemic, the logistics industry has worked round the clock to deliver above and beyond the SLAs expected.
Last-mile logistics has now entered a new era, with the same-day delivery experience no longer limited to essential goods and with convenience emerging as a key customer tenet.
The existence of speedy logistics has enabled growth for several micro, small and medium enterprises by delivering goods on the same day to end customers. The benefits of integrating one’s business with a third-party logistics provider have thus become pivotal today to ensuring lower costs and higher performances.
On-demand logistics services are, therefore, imperative for up-and-coming ecommerce platforms among other small and medium enterprises for delivering goods in a reliable and seamless manner.
Key to customer-centric logistics
The major differentiating factor between traditional and on-demand logistics is the elevated level of convenience available with these services.
Competitive as they are, on-demand delivery services empower customers to select from a variety of service providers, easily enter important details such as pickup and delivery date, time, and location. These platforms also provide greater visibility into the supply chain with real-time tracking of goods and packages.
This is a twofold benefit as it not only allows consumers to keep track of their orders but also allows suppliers to examine their processes and look for areas of improvement.
On-demand logistics: The Future of Retail
On-demand services will continue to be significant in the near future as we witness the setting up of various 3PL warehouses in developing nations.
With on-demand delivery becoming the new norm as many businesses try to establish an omnichannel presence, the future of retail is its transformation into local fulfilment centres as opposed to sparse brick-and-mortar stores.
The future will also see an exponential increase in leveraging innovative solutions such as the usage of computer vision technology like augmented reality, drones, blockchain technology, self-driving trucks, and artificial intelligence-powered robots to fully automate processes and achieve maximum efficiency.
On-demand startups continue to capture the attention of investors and venture capital funds as they are the key enablers of such a progressive model. According to freight forwarding company Globetrotters Ltd, there will be remarkable changes within the logistics landscape. Hyperlocal transportation with sub-hour deliveries is now being experimented with the usage of autonomous vehicles and drones.
The day is not far off when one will order a product online and have it delivered to their doorstep within 30 minutes by a drone.
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)