Mumbai: Domestic tech startups and SaaS companies are enabling innovative add-ons to supply chain and logistics management solutions for businesses through artificial intelligence (AI) led solutions during the lockdown.
These tools are helping businesses manage demand and logistics in an environment that is seeing a shortage of manpower amid rapidly changing regulations under the covid-19 induced social distancng.
While the lockdown has imposed several restrictions on e-commerce paltforms, it has also enabled brick and mortar stores to see the advantage of being accessible online and new age supply chain solution providers are tapping into this space.
LogiNext which offers transportation Software as a Service (SaaS) with its end to end logistics management platform backed by AI algorithms saw higher requirements for in-built safety measures.
LogiNext CEO Dhruvil Sanghvi said, “We witnessed huge demand and traction for driver safety and delivery tracking notifications among clients. We also tweaked the platform to ensure that customers have maximum information about the drivers as well as ways to minimize contact with delivery persons."
LogiNext’s platform enables automated order management, predictive capacity planning, real-time route optimization, dispatch automation, post-delivery processing and analytics of B2B transportation or B2C delivery business among others.
Sanghvi said a lot of retail, consumer goods customers were also rapidly changing from B2B models to direct-to-customer models and their solutions were updated rapidly to reflect delivery tracking notifications.
With platforms from cab services to restaurants now offering grocery delivery, the LogiNext solution has also added a jobs board for people who can take up extra deliveries outside of their regular jobs. This also meant adding analytic solutions to match the delivery person’s capacity (including the available vehicle) with the handling requirements of the products.
Another Indian supply chain optimization startup Locus.sh said automatic updation of routes depending on whether the region has been marked a red-alert zone, made logistics much safer. Locus offers an AI platform that companies can use to automate decision with solutions for route optimization, and fleet tracking insights and analytics solution, among others.
“For our FMCG clients, sales routing is the need of the hour. Locus can now cordon off red-alert zones and ensure that deliveries are done using alternate routes. Overall, we have seen a surge in order volumes 3-5 times for larger, legacy firms while an increase of 60-70% for smaller players in the essential goods space," said Nishith Rastogi - CEO & Co-founder, Locus.
Rastogi said companies continue to face workforce issues (operating on almost 40-50% reduced force despite demands being twice or thrice the usual rates) both in delivery and warehousing due to a shortage of skilled workforce in these uncertain times.
Some clients have changed their operating models so as to suit the on-ground conditions better. Delivery persons on the platform are also alerted to wash hands/ sanitize before their next delivery on the apps. In fact these are also safety measure that food delivery platforms have integrated into their offerings, he added.
Even as the likes of Jio and Facebook are collaborating to build a platform that will connect retailers to end consumers via Whatsapp, there is still a need for larger businesses covering huge areas to consolidate inventory and delivery with minimum manpower.
Last month, Microsoft’s venture fund arm invested in another Indian logistics SaaS platform Fareye, showing the opportunity that these businesses stand to tap across millions of small retailers and businesses in the country.