Suresh Bansal, Board Member, DTDC, In Conversation With LogiNext
Here are some placards that show three things that you might already know about our esteemed guest.
Yes, we are talking about Suresh Bansal, Director, DTDC India.
We, at LogiNext, are privileged to have Mr. Bansal here with us to share his words of wisdom.
We took this opportunity to be the voice of thousands of his admirers.
LogiNext Team (LT): Welcome to our forum, Mr. Suresh Bansal.
Suresh Bansal (SB): Thank you for your kind words.
LT: Mr. Bansal, we followed your thoughts on the advent of e-commerce culture back when it was in its infancy. How do you consider, and subsequently rate, logistics as a factor of e-commerce?
SB: Logistics, and for that matter logistics solutions from a quality delivery management company, is the utmost important aspect of the e-commerce business.
Traditionally logistics happened before a product is bought by a customer. But for e-commerce websites, logistics happens after the customer buys a product. This requires an extensive setup of delivery system knowledge to adapt and re-adapt to customer expectations. It also requires a dynamic infrastructure.
Logistics management solutions companies must run at pace with constant technology innovations to sustain quality service. Remember we are dealing with customers who have no knowledge or exposure to logistics and they are comparing us with the same experience as buying from a shop in a mall.
LT: Talking more about the transformation of logistics planning from the domain of traditional structure to e-commerce framework, how would you define the role of the average customer within this transformation?
SB: As a company, or for any company, you must understand the sensibilities of your customers. When you consider business clients, you would ideally make a safe assumption that they know about the basic functions of the logistics planning. They would probably understand and accommodate logistical bottlenecks if any.
The same would not be a safe assumption with an average e-commerce customer. If a sixteen-year-old boy or girl expects a product delivered, they would have a simple expectation that can sum up in one line “Product should be delivered on time with the promised product quality standard”. They would not, ideally, acknowledge or accommodate any delays, no matter how genuine the reason. You have to be the factor in this change in expectations while you manage your logistics and delivery systems.
LT: You previously emphasized the need for collaboration with a ‘quality’ delivery management solutions company. Could you elaborate on your emphasis on ‘quality’?
SB: A major portion of product deliverables, around 60 percent, are cash-on-delivery (COD). Any delivery person who goes around town delivering goods also holds these COD payments. If you consider any major e-commerce player, with normal online sales of over a million products, a number of deliverables at any given time would be in the higher units of lac. This means that the delivery person would perhaps have to hold on to cash even up, perhaps, a lac at a time.
The e-commerce company would only get their revenue when the delivery person pays the received COD payments. So, to sum up, the e-commerce company has both assets, its goods and its revenue (cash) out of its control for a major portion of the time. This level of authenticity and trust needs to be fulfilled by a ‘quality’ logistics and delivery management solutions company. Any compromise here would mean that you must have ‘faith’ in the compassion and honesty of the delivery person who is handling amounts in far excess to their basic salary.
Furthermore, the customer would associate the delivery service and person as an extension of the e-commerce company. Any dissatisfaction with the delivery standards would automatically backfire to the company.
LT: What are the recent trends in logistics technology arena, in terms of logistics planning and execution?
SB: As I see it, technology will always have the hide and seek factor. Everyone would expect you to have three things.
The first concept is the track and trace system: Track and trace are expected of every company and it is a general phenomenon now. But what has changed after the emergence of the e-commerce companies is that the sellers do not want customers to go and visit the website of logistics companies. The customer does not wish to go to two companies. This is where the fundamental change.
They want to have control over customer through their website without diverting them to a logistics company. Hence, Integration with the e-commerce companies has become more important in international and national markets.
Earlier they did not know how to make the best use of APIs (Application Programming Interface) and what data to send or receive but now these e-commerce companies have developed standard API’s.
The second factor on the upswing is the use of push notifications: The e-commerce companies don’t want the customer to call them and they don’t want to invest money in a dedicated call center to handle customers. These companies rather invest in push notifications to inform the customers as much as possible about the tracking visibility of the customer’s parcels or shipments.
It is, however, quite challenging unless you have a decision-making engine running with complex algorithms to capture events like bandhs, weather changes, accidents and a lot more that have an impact on the logistics.
Moreover, to achieve customer involvement through notifications, everything should be real time for the customer to know. Even if you have the technology, you would not be able to send the information correctly to the customer if you are not real time.
And finally, the key trend right now is database management and analysis: A stringent and extensive database management system should ideally build on itself through a self-learning protocol. Productive analysis of database information has become the key trend.
LT: What you think will be the future of Courier, Express, and Parcel (CEP) industry globally?
SB: The CEP industry would become much more competitive with an increased focus on matching up to and exceeding customer expectations.
LT: What are your inputs on the recent developments regarding Goods and Service Taxes (GST)?
SB: It has a feel-good factor, surely. However, it’s success would lie in its details. If they put old wine in a new bottle, then things won’t change much. My fear is that it should not get more complicated. But it is good that there will be one single form, the vehicle will not be stopped, will be saving time’. When we read more things, these details will come out more vividly.
LT: Finally, let’s include the pet project of the entire logistics industry, Drones. How do you see drones being a factor in last-mile delivery?
SB: As of now, It’s not practical in India. We can perhaps use them as a disaster management tool or in an emergency. But I don’t see a large-scale automation at a higher level. Its commercial application has, although, started in several places.