Flipkart, Snapdeal and Amazon’s rapid growth is fuelling startups in an unassuming sector

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E-tailers like Flipkart, Amazon and BigBasket want to satisfy their customers by fulfilling their demands on time and for that they need commercial vehicles. They have found a suitable ride in on-demand truck despatch platforms, keeping a closer tab on shipment costs.

Around a dozen commercial-vehicle aggregators have sprung up because e-Commerce is appearing as a promising business segment for steady revenues. Their business is to get trucks on a mobile platform and let customers hail away as they would do for a cab.

It is a technology access point for a highly unorganized but lucrative market estimated to be around Rs 39,000 crore ($6 billion), the money aggregately earned by light commercial vehicle operators in one year.

While there are seniors in the business like Mumbai's The Porter and Shippr in Bengaluru, Chennai's home-grown player GoGo Truck entered e-Commerce within six months into the business.

GoGo Truck has about 200 trucks on its platform. It is expanding its business into smaller cities such as Coimbatore and Erode. The company has contracts with e-Commerce majors Amazon and BigBasket for dedicated trucks.

While Amazon will utilize GoGo Truck for movement between its fulfillment centers, BigBasket is planning to go beyond — using commercial vehicles for linking the last mile.

Having a dedicated fleet on demand will rid e-Commerce firms of the task of deciding prices with individual fleet owners or last-minute haggling at the eleventh hour. "The advantage in this model is the stability of pricing and tracking. If you need a Tata Ace or an Ashok Leyland ...in half an hour, it is possible in this model," says A Vasister, Founder and CEO of GoGo.

Amazon Logistics is working with over one vehicle aggregator helping in transport within, and between, cities. It believes vehicle tracking has levers focused on the customer.

Samuel Thomas, director transportation at Amazon India, is of the opinion that in case of inter-city deliveries, the GPS can be a big game changer as it enables us to track the vehicles' movements and helps in managing and tracking the inventory. "Additionally, it enhances route planning and thereby timeliness of deliveries. We can also keep the customer informed," he said.

Pranav Goel, the entrepreneur at the helm of The Porter, says his trucks can offer data to clients about the loading and unloading capacities of their hubs. With every stop or breakdown and the idle periods captured real-time, e-tailers can know which hubs suffer delays in cargo handling.

"More hubs mean less visibility at every node of the supply chain. This leads to cost leakages in the system. The data we provide can help them spot congested hubs," said Goel. His company recently completed a Rs 35-crore Series-A round.

(Image: Indiatimes)
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