Ask any online retailer about their biggest pain point of doing business in India and the majority would have the same answer- logistics and last mile delivery! The service level and bandwidth of your logistics partner correlates to success of your online business, which makes the logistics the biggest bottleneck. Be it shipping apparels or expensive electronic gadgets, logistics is the deal breaker.
With the surge in e-commerce start-ups, many reliable service providers have emerged on the scene which has made order fulfillment much easier for the clients. However, things are far from perfect; long haul movement and last mile deliveries continue to be a space where a lot can be done with the aid of technology and better co-ordination amongst the key stakeholders. If anything, with competition in nearly every niche ever-so-high, for the e-commerce companies and logistics service providers, it’s like walking on a thin rope – make one mistake and it is all downhill from there.
In the background of so much competition and the need for on-demand services, it is quite common for anyone to forget the basics. We at SkyKing face multiple issues on a day-to-day basis and we feel that there are some basic things which can be improved and the day-to-day hassles can be minimized.
Here are some simple but very important things that any online retailer/shopper should remember while shipping out goods or making a purchase/
- Correct Address of the receivers and senders (along with pincode)
“ If we trace back to the roots and dig into the history of the express delivery, customers use to prefer express courier services because all they need to know was the name of the receiving party, the city/town name and the rest was taken care of. Having a strong presence in the local mandis, we still have a huge customer base which just mentions the name of the business entity and the city name and our delivery boys deliver the shipment without fail”, quips Arvind Biyani, Director of SkyKing. However, with the expansion of urban areas, a lot of businesses and residences have moved into outskirts of cities and it is essential to have the correct address along with pin code of the receivers and senders(along with the correct mobile numbers) printed on the top of the delivery box. Addresses in India are still not very standardized, in a city like Kolkata there are two streets named as Mahatma Gandhi Road. Even a tiny mistake can create a whole bunch of mess—from courier boy not finding the right house to late delivery to obstructions in returning the product, the list of problems can be endless!
- Contact number of the receivers and senders
You never know when the need will arise to ring either the sender or receiver of the package. Maybe the delivery boy needs additional assistance from the receiver to reach the given destination or maybe the customer needs to talk to the sender to get an alternate number of the receiver; reasons could be plenty. So it is important to have the right contact number of the senders and receivers printed on the box. “A lot of times our delivery boys have to return the shipments back because the receiver did not pick up the call while he was out in delivery, which is the primary reason we have launched the Alerts service, which lets you know that the shipment is in last mile, so that you can make necessary arrangements to accept the delivery and avoid unnecessary returns”, said Deepak Dhanuka, Ops Incharge, SkyKing.
- Required Invoice/Paperwork as supporting documents
Offering the end-customers with the correct invoice/paper-work is mandatory. Not only do the laws ask you to but the receiver needs it to manage returns or to resolve any issues with the product. The laws are extremely complex in India and vary across states and the paperwork depends on the origin and destination of the shipment as there are central and state laws which have to be considered. However, with the implementation of GST, the burden of paper work should definitely ease, which will reduce the shipping time. To know more about it, read our last blog post on the implication of GST in logistics.
Whether it is the ecommerce company handling the packaging or the logistics service provider, it is very (very) important to be extra careful here for a host of reasons. Both air and train transit in India is rough, as the handling inside the airline and railway terminal is not in the hands of the logistics player; so the package must be strong enough to survive all the bumps on the way. A shipment on an average changes roughly 40-60 hands from pick-up till the final delivery. “There are a lot of instances where-in we are shipping extremely high valuable items such as refrigerators, television sets for both online and offline retailers and we have to be extra careful with the packaging and the placement of the items, one small crack and the item is damaged. In a lot of cases we pre-alert the customer about the packaging of the material and make sure some extra layers are added so that in-transit damages are avoided”, said Deepak.
Logistics is a very tough industry to be in, be it the drivers plying trucks on highways or the last mile delivery boys, they all toil hard in difficult conditions to meet the expectations of the customer. It is important that we do our bit and ease their job by following the above mentioned rules as these are extremely time bounded jobs and a slight delay can result in loss of business.
Author: Varun Biyani
Varun Biyani, brings 10 years of experience in IT and building systems in the Logistics space both in the domestic and international arena. Varun has a Master’s Degree from Carnegie Mellon University, USA.