E-commerce brands have been playing a vital role during the Covid-19 phase with door step deliveries, as citizens avoid stepping out for important supplies like groceries, medicines, etc. equally crucial has been the role of last mile delivery companies like Rapid Delivery, who majorly work with the e-comm sector. The E-commerce sector registered 45-50 per cent growth in GMV overall in the first two weeks of March compared to the same period in February, as per estimates from RedSeer Consulting.
Mitigating the risk with technology
With the recent prohibitory orders from the Govt. to exempt e-commerce operations, the industry is facing major challenges as there is no clarity from authorities on the exempt of operations. Online grocery and medical stores have definitely received a larger flux of orders in the past few weeks, but the lack of clarity from the authorities has only caused this situation to degrade instead. Delivery companies have their warehouse filled with deliveries imperative for the situation, such as masks, sanitizers and medicines. However owing to this confusion with local authorities policing roads and persisting for delivery boys to go back home and shutting down ware-houses, these parcels are going undelivered. The non-clear communication also doesn't help in inventory planning for delivery companies which will eventually cause some financial crunch for smaller companies. With non-allowance to make deliveries, paired with the unclear initiatives by the government to contain the pandemic. The e-commerce companies are bound to bear the brunt of soaring expenses on supply chain operations this pandemic season.
Societies are not allowing delivery boys inside their gate. There is a work from home model being adopted by most companies mid and high level management. This has also added to the delivery conundrum as most corporate deliveries are returning back to origin due to non-availability of the person. The work from home model has also resulted in a boost in online sales as most states have imposed section 144 to curb the spread of the pandemic. But due to strict social distancing norms, societies are not allowing outsiders to enter buildings which poses a huge challenge for deliveries. The process of calling and coordinating with a customer to pick up the parcel from the gate consumes about twice as much time it takes to make a traditional delivery. Add to this customers not picking up calls will cause a substantial increase in the parcel returning back to origin. There is no work around; around this. However, delivery companies could look at optimising the workflow by equipping the back end team with systems with geocoding and AI. These systems analyse real time data to optimise routes with every delivery.
Mitigating the Risk
Because of the social distancing norm, last mile delivery partners face the challenge of no response from the receiver end whilst their parcel is out for delivery. To address this challenge, companies can utilize predictive engines to inform the customer on the delivery date to better inform the customer. Such engines ae of great help for last mile delivery partners especially during some crisis for better coordination for deliveries.
With delivery drones being more or less a distant dream, the current pride of a last mile delivery company are its delivery boys. They are the face of the e-commerce as well as last mile delivery brands. It is of utmost importance to keep constant tabs on the staff's health, since the boys are at a greater risk of contracting the virus due to the nature of their job. Apart from the basic precautionary measures such as masks and sanitizers, it is also important to educate the staff on the pandemic, explaining the conditions to be vigilant about. The nature of delivery boys' work may be termed risky considering the current situation. It is therefore extremely important to conduct periodic check-ups for the ground staff and quarantining anyone who shows any symptoms. This pro-activeness towards employees' health in general would go a long way for the goodwill of the brand as well as retain loyal employees. Due to the delivery business being HR intensive i.e. involves a lot of man power, keeping a track on a vast fleet of delivery man-power is essential to ensure efficient utilization of the company's resources to make as many deliveries as well as not partake in anything that could help in the spread of the virus.