FarEye CEO Kushal Nahata says when it comes to scaling contactless delivery operations and reducing turn-around time, dynamic routing capabilities of crowdsourcing platforms may empower businesses to optimize last-mile operations.
By Kushal Nahata
The COVID-19 pandemic followed by nation-wide lockdowns across the globe is causing unprecedented disruptions in the world of supply chain and logistics. In the absence of vaccines, staying at home has emerged as the single most effective way of ‘flattening the curve’ or controlling the spread of COVID-19 to prevent the ongoing pandemic from overwhelming healthcare facilities.
However, lockdowns pose a unique set of challenges, especially for businesses that provide the delivery of essential items like grocery, food, and medicines amongst others.
Mundane tasks like walking a few blocks to buy groceries and other essential items seems like a luxury which nations, even the most powerful ones, cannot afford. Hence, online or home deliveries have become the safest and most convenient way of purchasing essential items.
According to a study, the number of households ordering groceries online in the U.S. is up by 145.3% — owing to the ongoing pandemic. The study also highlighted that 26% of online grocery shoppers surveyed—the equivalent of 10.3 million U.S. households—said they are using a specific online grocery service for the first time. This rate of new users jumps to 39% for shoppers 60 years and older. Therefore, it is evitable for the home delivery industry to witness demand shocks.
During these uncertain times business must look at building supply chain and logistics processes that are resilient and always available. It is paramount that brands must first look at scaling deliveries without impacting their margins and secondly, comply with safety standards while executing deliveries.
As demand for home deliveries skyrocket, most enterprises will face a situation where their internal resources will get exhausted. This results in delivery delays, the inability to take new orders, inefficient inventory management, overworked delivery executives and quickly diminishing customer experience. Savvy businesses across the globe are leveraging crowdsourcing technology to meet demand shocks.
Crowdsourcing logistics can be referred to as a process that empowers shippers, retailers, and grocery stores to dodge the middlemen and directly reach out to temporary or part-time delivery executives. To keep things in perspective, one can compare this to a ride-hailing service. The difference is that instead of commuters, goods and packages are being transported through this process.
Crowdsourcing is not just a ‘good to have’— it is rapidly rising to the ranks of being a necessity for online retailers and even for brick-and-mortar stores.
Crowdsourcing empowers delivery stakeholders to centrally manage and scale driver operations digitally without choking margins. It makes routine tasks like driver registration and assessment seamless and efficient.
Through crowdsourcing, enterprises can meet elastic demands without affecting profitability and bottom-line. This paves the way for a more economically efficient and viable means to run driver operations.
Crowdsourcing tools rapidly scan for temporary or part-time delivery executives across hundreds of available markets based on different aspects, including productivity, fuel consumption, cost, proximity and onboard drivers. Such platforms also ensure that delivery stakeholders can quickly execute things like driver registration, identity proof uploads, and real-time updates on driver status.
A crowdsourcing platform helps businesses centrally manage all driver operations on a single pane of glass. This, in turn, ensures quick decision-making, high levels of operational visibility, enhanced KPI benchmarking, and greater fleet control. It also makes core delivery processes like roster management seamless by ensuring one-click roster upload, scheduling breaks, and driver check-in and check-out.
When it comes to scaling delivery operations and reducing turn-around time, the dynamic routing capabilities of crowdsourcing platforms empower businesses to optimize last-mile operations by optimizing fleet capacity, generating highly efficient routes, reducing operational expenses, boosting delivery profitability, increasing fleet control, and more.
Powered by disruptive technologies like predictive analytics, a crowdsourcing platform accurately predicts on-route delays and generates highly accurate ETAs to ensure a delightful delivery experience.
By handling demand surge while ensuring cost-effective, contactless and delightful deliveries during the COVID-19 crisis, delivery orchestration and visibility platforms empower enterprises to seamlessly scale and manage the delivery of essential items.
The next question will revolve around how to ensure high levels of safety while executing deliveries. The COVID-19 pandemic has made social distancing the new normal. It is thus important to ensure that social distancing norms are integrated with literally everything we do—and home deliveries are no exception.
Going contactless with regards to delivering orders is the only option now. It is safe not only for customers but also for the delivery executives as well. Contactless payments and contactless deliveries are now gaining momentum owing to social distancing.
While not exactly a new concept, contactless payment was never really associated with last-mile delivery. Now with ‘social distancing’ becoming the de facto norm, it has become necessary for retailers to embrace digital tools that provide customers with contactless or “tap-and-go” payment options and completely eliminate cash transactions. These payment options are basically OTP (One-Time-Password) based transactions or include payments executed by simply touching cards.
Contactless deliveries are relatively new for the home delivery industry. It means leaving a delivery at a customer’s doorstep without any physical means of intimation like ringing a bell or knocking.
Digital online delivery tools allow delivery executives to keep an order at a customer’s doorstep, take a picture of the same order and send it to the customers to inform them that the delivery is done.
As governments across nations continue to extend lockdowns, businesses can expect a further surge in demand for home deliveries.