Focus on warehousing, e-commerce in 2022

It is vital to provide solution-oriented services rather than transactional support to customers, says Rajiv Singh, MD-India, cargo-partner. He focuses on importance of tie-ups between industry stakeholders, deployment of cent per cent digitalisation and designing cost-effective supply chains of the future.

Ritika Arora Bhola

How do you manage your logistics and supply chain management system in terms of creating value for your customers?

The company can provide end-to-end to real-time visibility through a platform called SPOT. The highlights of this system are its Purchase Order Management and Transport Management capabilities. We have worked with this system on various projects to improve vendor performance, increase container utilization, avoid expensive freight solutions through proactive notifications, and help reduce detention and demurrage costs.

Our company has a dedicated firm named ilogics for IT solutions for the supply chain industry. We offer 4PL solutions focused to manage all transportation events from the key players in the supply chain. The solution is aimed to give full control and visibility to customers for shipments from any 3PL, any carrier, and any vendor across the supply chain. Another feature, ‘dashboard’ provides customised reports with the most important information to keep a daily overview of the business.

What megatrends do you perceive in your operations in supply chain business?

We have seen growing trends of shipping lines and service providers investing heavily in the digitization and customers using third-party platforms for freight negotiations or tendering the business. Because of the unrealistic freight rates, the buying behaviour has changed into spot or ad hoc buying. Digitization helped small and medium-sized customers to receive online instant quotes, book online, prepare to ship and track shipments seamlessly till delivery. We are seeing some interesting online services simplifying payments from customers to 3PL that will make life easier for customers.

Another one is the boom of e-commerce due to the pandemic, which has pushed 3PLs to offer B2C and B2B2C solutions, including fulfillment services. Finally, we would see carriers, largely shipping lines, entering the freight business through acquisitions. This will mean consolidation in freight forwarding industry over the next two years.

How do you ensure smooth coordination between the players involved in the supply chain ecosystem?

Globally, we are offering a suite of solutions to our customers from 40 sites of warehousing and order fulfillment along with dedicated industry-specific solutions. With 11 of these sites in Asia, we are starting to focus on warehousing and e-commerce solutions for our customers. In India, we have set up a team to look into planning our first multi-client facility, and announce more when the time comes. The expansion of our warehousing is based on our e-commerce ambitions to offer an end-to-end B2C service on the market.

How important has it become for firms to design supply chains of future, which are cost-effective and can meet ever-evolving customer needs?

In my opinion, the global supply chains were moving in this direction, and if anything, the ongoing pandemic, and the shipping crisis have only expedited this trend. COVID-19 showed once more how the world is connected, and over-reliance on one country is a risk, when the supply chain gets disrupted. We will need to manage the capacity arrangement better, look out for risks and come up with out of the box solutions.

As freight partners, we feel it is our prerogative to continue to keep looking at the difficult areas and provide solution-oriented services to our customers rather than transactional support. For this, we need to maintain customer intimacy and have our teams on the ground where the customers are, rather than just managing these centrally from control towers. No wonder that “we take it personally” is one of our core values.

How vital is collaboration and how challenging has it become for LSPs to meet customers’ needs, considering the bottlenecks in Indian market?

Collaboration is the cornerstone of any ecosystem. There are so many people and stakeholders involved in executing one shipment. The amount of information, geographical presence, and skills required to manage the supply chain flow flawlessly makes it impossible for anyone to manage it all alone. What makes one LSP stand out from another is the network and quality of partners to ensure a minimal chance of failure. Furthermore, long-standing ties with carriers are helpful, as space today is at a premium, and it is a carrier’s market. The Indian market has many local forwarders who have their way of thriving within the industry. Our industry is in many cases a price-sensitive market where the rates trump all else, be it the service levels, reliability, or the range of offered IT services. We need to rely on our strengths and principles to stand for a company.

Could you elaborate on techniques and strategies you are devising to infuse into the firm’s operations?

In the logistics industry, it is important to have a robust transportation management system that allows your teams to achieve better productivity. Keeping up with the pace of digitization, we are investing heavily in upgrading our operating systems and tools to support our global network expansion and business growth. We are working with our preferred carriers to integrate them into our systems to provide accurate information. This supports our strategy to expand our business in e-commerce where speed matters. We are confident these changes will help us to be more responsive to our customers’ needs.

Please share with us your expansion plans and future projects?

We have charted an expansion plan to major industrial hubs in India. We have received a good response from our customers in Vadodara and Indore. This has assured us to continue with our expansion plans.