I interviewed Syed Adeel Hussain who discussed last mile deliveries in e-commerce supply chains, from his perspective in Middle East and South Asia.
We are discussing e-commerce deliveries in supply chain. My name is Syed Adeel Hussain and I have some amount of experience implementing e-commerce logistics setups from scratch. I did that in Dubai with noon last year. Noon has been a revolutionary e-commerce company in the middle east region. Currently, I am working with Daraz in South Asia. Daraz is not only in Pakistan, but also Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Nepal. There are 5 regions they are covering. Most recently they have been acquired by Alibaba so it has great turnaround for people in Daraz including myself.
Can you talk about how the last mile deliveries in e-commerce are done effectively?
Yes. Basically, when it comes to last mile it is all about making sure you reach the customer with as close as proximity as possible and with using the least amount of customer interaction. While doing so you ensure that you enhance the customer experience. When you talk about reaching the customer, people do it in different ways.
For example, when I was working at Noon they used to have a pin-drop selection of customer locations. That pin-drop selection would go back into the backend system and would populate some data on which our last mile delivery system would effectively print the zones such that the sorting would be done. Then the riders would be associated with those zones, and the deliveries would be done. In Daraz however, the system is a bit different. We don’t have a pin-drop mechanism.
Rather, we have address fields in which customers punch in their addresses. To ensure address accuracy , we are developing an auto correct feature in the address field where the site will suggest an automated spelling of that particular address which is fed into the back-end system. The system will associate that with a particular zone and rider. The package gets assigned to a particular rider and it gets delivered.
As a matter of fact, I see the challenges in last mile deliveries being to be able to reach the customer with as close as proximity as possible without interacting with or touching the customer. The customer gets annoyed if you contact them too many times asking for their street address, where to turn, left right, etc. This is how effective last mile deliveries are done.
Can you talk about where you have seen some good results?
In Noon Dubai where we were implementing the last mile supply chain. What we used to do was gather a list of addresses, around 200,000 addresses in Dubai and Abu Dabi. We then combined those addresses into different zones using our last mile delivery system. The system allowed you to do some geo-fensing based on those addresses. Those areas would be then associated to riders. At the time of placement of an order it would automatically be assigned to a particular rider and that rider would get a notification on their number of deliveries.
The rider would get about 30 minutes before his shift time to plan how to deliver his route. He would be able to effectively plan his route time and deliver his parcels while giving a good customer experience.
Do you have any final comments or points to make?
One last point is that effective e-commerce last mile deliveries are effectively a tradeoff between control and speed. If your strategic business objective is to go for speed, you might have to compromise some control. We do that in a marketplace model where we have sellers and the 3PL providers do a full drop ship model. They collect from the sellers and deliver directly to the customers, without bringing it to your facility. In this way your speed is good but control is compromised. On the other hand, when you have a stock in your warehouse or you bring the stocks to your warehouse, then you add a certain amount of control to your shipment. But that would effectively decrease the speed slightly. It is about the strategic alignment of speed versus control. Different e-commerce companies have their own strategies. Companies new to the market may go for control first. Once they have that control they go for speed.
About Syed Adeel Hussain
Syed Adeel Hussain
Senior Project Manager Logistics @ Daraz - Alibaba Groupy