Logistics and the last mile delivery has always been the biggest issue for e-commerce companies. The fastest growing customer base for e-commerce is turning out to be the tier-2 and tier-3 cities, which are also the most poorly connected. However, the rural customer, like his urban counterpart expects same day or at least same week deliveries, which, seeing things from their point of view is not too unfair.
With out of the box being the mantra of the hour, every e-commerce player is trying different ways to please their distant customers.
Jabong has, in a very smart turn, has launched its NextDoor service where customers can pick up what they have ordered online from the closest coffee shop, petrol station or tour operator.
“We are sitting on supply chain opportunity” said Praveen Sinha, co-founder and managing director of Jabong, which is piloting the most extensive initiative of its kind by an Indian ecommerce company. The trial for the pickup service will start this week in 39 towns, among them are Murshidabad in West Bengal, Chandausi in Uttar Pradesh, Dahod in Gujarat and Udhampur in Jammu & Kashmir. “Our hypothesis is that if we can provide convenient delivery support then there is potential to get 70% of our demand from non-metros” added Sinha. Jabong currently gets 50% of its revenue from non-metro centres
Jabong is putting in place a series of processes for the pickup service. “We have built the technology platform through which we can put in place checks and balances at each handshake point,” said Sinha. The platform will help the company keep track of orders reaching the pickup centre and ensure that the order is handed to the right customer. Partners will be paid for every order they fulfill.
On the other side, Amazon is playing with a different kind of technology. That Amazon was planning to use drones to deliver products is pretty old news. The latest rumour though is that India, not USA will be Amazon’s testing ground for Prime Air, the unmanned aerial vehicle project. Though Techcrunch rubbishes this as mere rumour, this could very well be true.
The Federal Aviation Administration of America is absolutely anti-drones and it will likely be many years before drone delivery is legalized in the USA. Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s CEO has not hidden the fact that the company is seeing India as its fastest growing market. With all the money that has already been invested in the prime air project, and all the restrictions with even doing a trial run of the project in the USA, there is a fair chance that the Amazon drones might be seen circling the Mumbai and Bengaluru skies with the rockets as early as Diwali.
It will be interesting though, to see which method works better – The extended human network of Jabong or the artificially intelligent drones of Amazon.