Winning the Last Mile During COVID-19

September 4, 2020

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Over the past six months COVID-19 has been spreading like wildfire across the globe. To prevent the spread, governments across the globe, the Sultanate included, have gone into lockdown, cross border trade has been hampered, and the majority of manufacturing units have experienced closure or are working with only a fraction of their staff. As a result, the supply of daily essentials has been hampered. The fear of contacting the disease, social distancing, and quarantine measures, as well as limited operating hours and minimal staff at brick and mortar stores, haveseverely hampered people’s abilities to source their daily essentials and groceries from markets. As a result, people across the Sultanate have turned to the online world, which has resulted in e-commerce witnessing a surge with last mile deliveries as the lifeline for securing essential products.

However, what we are witnessing here is much more than just a temporary disruption. The shift in market dynamics we are seeing right now within Oman has already begun reshaping commercial behaviour, as well as the commercial landscape as we know it, for the foreseeable future. For starters, consumers have vastly expanded the range of products they purchase online while local e-commerce and logistics businesses have begun experimenting with their flexibility by delivering products far beyond what they used to before as well as catering to an audience that is now far more open minded about e-commerce. The increased demand coupled with the need to continue operations has also led several local businesses to explore e-commerce opportunities. However, with so many big players already in the market, smaller sized businesses need to make a much more calculated approach towards any prospective online opportunities in order to maximise their impact and reduce costs. Below we will explore what exactly this entails and how a unified logistics platform like Imdad can greatly help businesses streamline this process and improve efficiency, whilst keeping costs at a bare minimum.

A Delicate Balancing Game

What we are experiencing right now is a sped-up version of what’s instore for the e-commerce and last-mile industry in the future. While large players can keep pursuing faster delivery options, smaller players that do so will see their costs soar. Instead, success in such an environment can be better achieved by maintaining the complex balance between addressing demand, flexibility, sustainability, and costs. Moreover, as competition ramps up, so do customer expectations. In order to match, or perhaps even exceed, these expectations it is worth splitting your focus into three primary areas – consumer centricity, flexibility, and control.

  • ConsumerCentricity:  As e-commerce accelerates, larger players such as Carrefour, Sultan Centre, and Lulu Hypermarket are already beginning to exert their influenceby offering various last mile services such as Click & Collect and Home Delivery services. For smaller players, it is the customer experience and service that decides success in the majority of cases. In order to do so, there are two primary criteria that need to be addressed. The first of these is offering a seamless experience across all channels, be it online or in person. The second is offering an observably fast delivery service with timely updates and real-time notifications.

 

  • Flexibility: Being able to develop and design a network that can control costs and respond to unpredicted large-scale events such as COVID-19 is invaluable. This includes having the flexibility within your network to adapt and evolve in response to demand and customer expectations, while at the same time minimising costs wherever possible. Maintaining optimal efficiency, even in a time of crisis, while at the same time expanding on their ability to deliver a wider range of products, is also vital.
  • Control: With delivery networks being stressed to their very limits, never has the value of meeting your KPIs been emphasised as they are now amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. This is especially true for on-time deliveries. Your last-mile delivery strategy needs to be designed and aligned with your network in such a way as to always achieve your on-time delivery targets and consistently meet customer expectations. This is especially true for your first-time customers. The deeper you move into e-commerce, the more important it is to ensure your first deliveries are trouble free. Damaged or missing items, as well as incorrect items or delivery locations will not only disappoint customers but also hurt your bottom line.

    This is why using systems or programs that help you maintain full control, with regular updates and tracking of your entire network, stock, and deliveries, is invaluable for any company that wishes to succeed in this space.

    One such solution is our Imdad platform.

So, What is Imdad?

It is our unified logistics platform, powered by Mile Solutions, to optimise your entire delivery operation. It will not only help you improve customer engagement but also help you achieve sales growth of up to 40% in the long run. The platform can also help utilise and plan field operations effectively during peak hours and expand your delivery coverage. It is this comprehensiveness coupled with its ease of use that makes it one of the best logistics management solutions available in the market, especially for SMEs.

 

What Can Imdad Actually Do?

Going back to the three focus areas we touched upon earlier – consumer centricity, flexibility, and control. Imdad is a platform fundamentally addresses each of these aspects of your business. Firstly, it integrates all your logistics and delivery operations into one system, ensuring cost effective and timely deliveries. This includes everything right from the digital dispatch of all orders all the way through to CRM and analytics.

Starting from the digital dispatch phase, Imdad can streamline and automate the entire process, encompassing both daily individual and bulk dispatches. The platform also incorporates complete stock management, allowing you to properly track your stock from pick and pack, loading, and deliveries all the way through to any returns. This even includes complete tracking of damaged, returned, or promotional items, thereby ensuring that the impact from delivery quality defects is kept to an absolute minimum.

The complete optimisation and efficiency of last mile deliveries is also a core aspect of the platform and nowhere is this more apparent than in the route planning and optimisation the platform is capable off. The platform and its accompanying app (more on this below) provide drivers with real-time routing decisions, saving both time and fuel. Imdad also provides customers, drivers and Mile users with complete up to date real time notifications, across multiple channels, together with electronic proof of delivery, complete with comprehensive geo coordinates and date – time stamps. The platform even provides automated system generated invoices and delivery notes for printing in field or back office.

This very same data is also used to provide you with comprehensive real-time CRM for your entire customer database together with geo enabled location services. Activity analysis, driver performance and map views are also provided to you on an intuitive dashboard, allowing for instant decision making.

Best of all, the platform is already optimised for 11 different industries – Bakeries, courier companies, e-commerce, FMCG, fruit and vegetables, grocery, laundries, pharmacies, restaurants, retail, and water delivery.

The App

Taking your business online is not always easy and one of the greatest challenges one could face is the development of an online app that is both engaging and intuitive. While developing one’s own app is always an option, doing so can come with its own host of issues. Amongst the most problematic is developing an app that performs seamlessly on multiple operating systems and on various platforms. In order to do so, you will need experienced developers, which could be prohibitively expensive. And then there is the issue with security, which is especially important in an app serving as an e-commerce platform. A great alternative is to secure a third-party White Labelled Consumer Apps.

Such apps, like the one available on our Imdad platform, allows you to easily get up and running in a fraction of the time. They are also extremely customisable, allowing you to showcase your products and services under your brand. Run promotions, extend discounts, and interact with customers all within your own branded app; all at a price point far lower than it would cost you to develop one from scratch.

The White Labelled Consumer App we provide via the Imdad platform is a great example, offering you a comprehensive app fully integrated with Dashboards and Payment Gateways. It is also fully customisable with any theme or colour of your choosing. Once operational, the app supports everything from customer profiles, in-app notifications and promotions management to live delivery tracking, live chat, and even delivery time and delivery point Changes

Orders originating from the native apps land in the Mile dashboard. Mile’s CRM located at our data centre in Oman, stores your customer data with geo coordinates. Mile’s online payment gateway integrations can also be added if required. The app also supports cash on delivery and credit card pre-payments.

 

How Do You Benefit?

If you operate a business within either of the 11 aforementioned industries and are looking to take your business online, Imdad offers you everything you need to get started almost immediately; and it does it at a fraction of the cost it would take you to develop the same in-house. In fact, we deliberately designed it to tackle the most common issues most companies face when looking to delve into the e-commerce landscape. As a result, it acts as a comprehensive one-stop-solution for most logistics problems.

Starting with the White Labelled Consumer App, you are already presented with capable and proven e-commerce platform from which to design your own branded app. As mentioned earlier, the app also acts as a great customer engagement platform by offering an intuitive and streamlined interface and live chat support.

Outside of the app, you are also provided with a complete set of applications and enhanced functionalities to cover all major last-mile delivery processes specifically catered to your business and customers. As an example, the system provides special attention to spot sales to pre-scheduled orders for Bakeries, where the perishable nature of their products require very timely updates from the sales and delivery staff. While for FMCG businesses, the platform is designed to streamline logistics and supply chain processes. In doing so, the platform helps FMCG brands the ability to efficiently meet the delivery goals of their business as well as the expectations of their customers. Regardless, once the platform is up and running for your business, it can accept and track orders for you from multiple sources. Its ‘Omni Channel Order Origination’ system, covers everything from online orders, direct customer orders, or even orders from your field staff booked through the app. Each of these orders are managed via a central system and pushed to the relevant driver as the system sees fit. This very same system takes the hassle out of time-consuming order scheduling for you, automatically planning the journey, route, and deliveries for each assigned driver. This journey plan is always available to each driver and salesperson in their respective apps. It even provides concise digital load outs for each vehicle, so that the exact quantity of product to be loaded is provided. This drastically reduces the chances of error or lost products. The app is also designed to specifically optimise routes in real time, ensuring delivery schedules are maintained and trip costs are lowered. Best of all, with the customer locations and routes available to drivers directly on the app, customer location training is no longer a necessity. As a delivery and logistics business your fleet is by far your most valuable asset. Which is why a proper record of each vehicles whereabouts at every conceivable minute is absolutely vital. Imdad allows you to do just that, with real time fleet tracking together with delivery status notifications. Our all-in-one device also allows for the collection of payment on delivery when needed. Our system can even handle the tracking of returns and damaged products directly through the driver app.

How Can You Apply for Imdad?

The Imdad platform is now available directly from our website www.imdad.om; where you can apply for one of several flexible packages at multiple price points, starting from as low as just OMR 41 per month. Should you wish to try out the system before putting in the investment, we can provide you with a full-fledged demo or even a free 30-day trial package. Alternatively, the Imdad platform is now also available via ‘Tawseel’, the national cloud-based technology initiative supported by the Oman Logistics Center (ASYAD) and designed to enable logistics providers adopt the latest logistics solutions. For more information on Imdad, please visit the Imdad website – www.imdad.om or call 24171111. For more information on the ‘Tawseel’ initiative or ASYAD, please visit www.asyad.om.