Invest Now to Maximise Scalability
An efficient and transparent network is the need of hour to focus on the first mile of pickup management and connectivity to transhipment operations if it has to stand the test of customer satisfaction. Vijay Vashisht , AVP, Safexpress shares the details:
Q1. Please elaborate Safexpress plans and expansions in the year 2022-23
We’re in 26th year of operation and investing in capability expansion has been the mainstay of our business strategy. By capability expansion we mean optimising resources – warehouses, hubs, trucks, manpower, and technology – that can withstand pulls and pressure arising out 20 years from now. So, even though we run the risks that our warehouses are empty today and trucks are plying half to the capacity, we are assured of the fact that they will get going in just a matter of months.
Second aspect of our growth strategy is our steadfast and sole commitment to the national market. We are India-only Company and as has been the case especially for over last 3 decades, the India story will continue to be shepherded by domestic consumption. Our commitment would continue to be in providing logistics and express distribution solution the way industry needs.
Q2. What are the prominent changes seen in post Covid times in terms of operations
We have been witness to unprecedented happenings last two years that has exposed vulnerabilities in the production and supply chain strategies of manufacturers the world over. Supply-crunch followed by demand shock in a quick succession with a temporary glut thrown-in in between have severely affected not only production and consumption patterns but also the distribution networks. In a way, what was exposed during the last two years of pandemic was a culmination of many other things which have gained roots over the last decade at least – increasing trade-fissures and resultant tariff barriers, anti-dumping laws that furthered protectionist ideologies – without giving much thought to the interconnectedness that the world is already well-entrenched in. Sum total that is becoming visible is a change that is manifest on domestic manufactures to ramp up domestic production, grow employment opportunities within, and reduce dependence on sources that are offshore.
And then there are consumers who will continue to want low prices especially when burdened by inflationary pressures. So, for businesses, the pressure to operate efficiently and use capital frugally will remain unrelenting. How to strengthen supply chain to be more resilient without weakening their competitiveness will necessitate entrepreneurship at micro level while collaboration at scale. These are the moment built for at-the-crossroads stuff.
For the logistics and supply chain partner, it is necessary to remember that they operate as an extension of manufacturing in value chain, and there is no way out without end-to-end integration that ably compete and compete well. Logistics and distribution partners in order to scale will have to heavily invest in building networks, maximise their warehousing capabilities that lend strength to their structure, and man these positions with trained manpower. Yes, the catchword here is investment for future.
Q3. Is last mile connectivity new mantra to success?
Instant phone-based order tracking, along with comparable real-time processes, are simply an expectation of doing distribution business of which the last mile delivery by virtue of it being the most visible, happens to get a lot of traction.
However, last mile delivery is only the realisation of intricately built 3-step process that also includes first mile and middle mile. An efficient and transparent network would focus as much on the first mile of pickup management and connectivity to transhipment operations if it has to stand the test of customer satisfaction. Effectively, first mile provides the heft to the distribution business while its’ middle mile add to its structural strength.
Of course, what is most visible or has to be most visible, happens to undergo major scrutiny. The online retail boom has only given it an incredible sense of importance. For distribution businesses, including the courier businesses, the opportunity is there in taking the businesses to new levels of efficiency and competitiveness. Cloud ERP solution is one such upcoming tool. Apart from this, interconnectivity of different segments of business by smart EDI linkages and WMS solutions; advanced GPS-based tracking and decentralising the use of bar code technology which is already catching up big-time, would take distribution industry to new levels of efficiency and economy, reduce pilferage and wastage.
Distribution business in a way was the innovator of digital transformation because it was the space where need for visibility was most starkly felt. It will continue to be innovator in this regard.