Even though digital logistics has been the buzz word in the industry for a while now, the buzz only appears to get louder. With more companies looking to navigate the digital journey, Allcargo Group’s Chief Digital Officer, Vaishnav Shetty, sheds some light in a tete-a-tete on the latest digital ventures that are taking place in the India born, global logistics conglomerate.
You’re a firm advocate for technology, how do you see technology shaping the logistics market in the coming years?
When we speak of a digital world, the current trends no longer state that we are on the cusp of a digital future – rather it is already here, we are in it. Right from banking to public distribution systems, digital technology has permeated every sector of life. We are constantly and consistently immersing ourselves in a digital experience. Today, when people travel in local trains they are consuming content, buying stuff online, or even conducting meetings virtually. With the high penetration of smartphones, quick commerce saw an opportunity to simplify the lives of people and it is this same ease and simplicity that is in high demand in the logistics sector. So I see it more as an external factor driving the demand, but to which we internally have to respond. The logistics sector is already responding and how! Blockchain, AI, machine learning, digital twins these are no longer futuristic terms associated with an abstract tomorrow. In just a few years, I think the whole logistics industry will be digitalized – it’s going to be really exciting!
ECU360 – the group’s proprietary logistics platform is a much talked about product among freight forwarders, and is becoming increasingly popular. What is helping it attract more users?
It’s simple. ECU360 enables customers to ship with a click – that’s why it’s a hit. Right at their fingertips they get instant quotes for cargo movement across 180 countries, over 2400 direct trade lanes and door-to-door service in over 50 markets. We also worked on ECU360 to now also include a host of nifty features such as customer profiles, registration process, speed of quote reply, automatic track and trace, customized reports and analytics, API, customs module, a knowledge portal, along with online Insurance, and proactive communication, in addition to the existing, trade lanes, booking, documentation management and sailing schedules. Consequently, over 20,000 forwarders are using ECU360 each month, with month on month increase in new users. That ECU Worldwide recently won ‘Technology Services Provider of the Year’ at the Landmarks in Logistics Awards 2022, by Logistics Gulf News is a testament to our efforts in the digital sphere and the rich talent that we have on board.
Apart from ECU360 how else is technology being used to drive efficiencies in the group?
Allcargo today is a multinational conglomerate spread across continents. In addition to multimodal cargo movements across the globe, within India the company has a presence in almost every logistics business. Technology, therefore, forms a core element in our processes. For instance, we use automation to augment service quality, build a culture of data integrity, and optimise internal productivity. We are also looking at the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning to empower better decision making and optimise the existing network infrastructure. Currently, among other digital logistics initiatives, we are also focusing on creating a unique global network and operating rhythm with real-time prescriptive yield intelligence; real-time supply visibility; and a customer centricity framework.
Further, to drive efficiencies across the spectrum of logistics solutions that we offer, we collaborate with logistics veterans and experienced technologists at ECU Worldwide, our global subsidiary, and have set up a Centre of Excellence in data science to derive insights from the vast amount of data that logistics transactions generate.
An incubation cell for start-ups is also underway. What is the thought behind that?
In keeping with the spirit of giving back to the industry and also building maturity in the supply chain
ecosystem through mentorship and thought leadership, we launched a new cell for the incubation, acceleration and investments in start-ups. With the advent of Artificial Intelligence and other new-age technologies into logistics, an initiative like this will help pave the way for innovation and collaboration, thus creating a space for physical and digital consolidation.
What is the impact of these technological developments?
I see the impact as twofold – one for the Group and the other for the wider industry. At the micro level the integration of diverse digital tools and initiatives across group companies leads to huge wins for our customers – they get seamless, convenient logistics in India and overseas. As a result, today ECU Worldwide is the first and only LCL consolidator where 60% of the export shipments are booked digitally and where there is one global operating system.
On a wider scale, the white label solutions, API and EDI integrations and other tech-enabled services are furthering our aim to democratize technology and make it more accessible to customers, freight forwarding partners, small business, and more, so that the benefits of digital technology are cascaded to diverse entities across the logistics ecosystem, creating technological synergies to augment productivity. As the logistics industry takes giant leaps to go digital, through Allcargo’s digital initiatives we are helping the sector take sure steps in that direction.