Lo­gis­ti­cally, Plug-and-play will Work. So Feels Snapdeal

Co aims to use plat­form to fa­cil­i­tate in­te­gra­tion and cut down de­pen­dence on man­ual pro­ce­dures

The Economic Times - - Disruption: Startups & Tech - Taslima.Khan@ times­group.com

New Delhi: Snapdeal plans to make it manda­tory for lo­gis­tics part­ners to in­te­grate with its tech­nol­ogy plat­form. The ecom­merce firm, which has in­vested $300 mil­lion (about .₹ 2,000 crore) in lo­gis­tics tech in the past two years, is build­ing a plug-and-play on­line plat­form to fa­cil­i­tate in­te­gra­tion and cut down de­pen­dence on man­ual pro­ce­dures as it pre­pares to ramp up de­liv­ery ca­pac­i­ties up to 20 times.

The plat­form is cur­rently in the test­ing phase and will go in for a full-blown scale-up soon, Snapdeal’s chief cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence of­fi­cer Jayant Sood said. The com­pany works with about 15 part­ners across 46,000 pin­codes.

Snapdeal’s arch ri­val Flip­kart, which is ex­pected to spin off its lo­gis­tics ver­ti­cal EKart into a sep­a­rate ver­ti­cal, in­vested close to $100 mil­lion (about .₹ 667 crore) in tech­nol­ogy early this year while Paytm hinted at plans to dou­ble in­vest­ment in lo­gis­tics net­work to .₹ 500 crore this fis­cal. As consumer de­mand now em­anates from across the hin­ter­land and far-flung ar­eas, Snapdeal is in­creas­ingly bank­ing on re­gional lo­gis­tics play­ers who cater to de­liv­er­ies in such ar­eas but are low on tech­nol­ogy. “We don’t have a sin­gle part­ner who cov­ers the length and breadth of In­dia and that is the rea­son why last-mile lo­gis­tics still re­mains highly frag­mented. As we plan to get to the depth of In­dia, we need to part­ner with a whole lot of re­gional part­ners,” said Sood.

Most of the smaller re­gional last- mile play­ers op­er­at­ing in tier-III towns or ru­ral ar­eas do not have the fi­nan­cial mus­cle or ca­pa­bil­ity to in­vest in tech­nol­ogy, Sood said. “But at the same time it’s very, very crit­i­cal for us to main­tain end-to-end vis­i­bil­ity in terms of where the pack- et is at any point of time to main­tain de­liv­ery time­lines,” he said.

When the plat­form is rolled out, Snapdeal will make it manda­tory for all lo­gis­tics part­ners to in­te­grate with the on­line plat­form so as to work with the com­pany. The ser­vice will come free of cost to its part­ners. Cur­rently in­di­vid­ual in­te­gra­tion with de­liv­ery part­ners hap­pens on an API (ap­pli­ca­tion pro­gram in­ter­face) to API ba­sis and since dif­fer­ent play­ers have very dif­fer­ent APIs, in­te­gra­tion takes up to a cou­ple of months to com­plete.

The plat­form in the works can re­duce the time taken to a week, es­pe­cially for smarter part­ners who have some ex­po­sure to tech­nol­ogy in their oper­a­tions. Snapdeal has also cre­ated an app that will be given to part­ners and they will be able to use it not only for Snapdeal but also for their oper­a­tions with other ecom­merce com­pa­nies.

The plug-and-play tech so­lu­tion will en­able smart man­age­ment of peaks and troughs in de­mand by smartly al­lo­cat­ing vol­umes, based on a part­ner’s ca­pac­i­ties, ac­cord­ing to the com­pany. It will also help man­age new prod­ucts such as the re­cently launched four-hour de­liv­ery ser­vice for ship­ment of fast-mov­ing consumer goods in Delhi. In the com­ing months, most of Snapdeal’s first-mile oper­a­tions will be con­trolled by Vul­can Ex­press, along with a cou­ple of other large firms.

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