Mumbai-based tech startup iThink Logistics uses its AI-based solution to ensure efficient delivery of parcels, lowering the return ratio for online sellers.
When Vipul Yadav and his four friends first ventured into ecommerce, they learnt a tough lesson - the success of their brand depended largely on the logistics and delivery network. Having experienced this very issue, they decided to solve this problem with an artificial intelligence (AI) based solution.
Mumbai-based iThink Logistics was founded about a year ago by Vipul, Bharat Karotra, Paresh Parmar, Nikul Dodia and Zaiba Sarang. This bootstrapped startup has a technology platform that ensures that once a parcel leaves the premises of an online seller, it is efficiently monitored so that it can strategically reach the end customer.
“We identified some issues and gaps with the ecommerce industry, especially the huge increase in the high return ratio and decided to build an AI assistance solution,” says Vipul, Co-founder and Head – Product strategy.
According to the founders, the return ratio for the ecommerce industry is around 30 percent, with more than half of the parcels not being delivered due to inefficiencies in the logistics and delivery network.
The iThink Logistics Solution
iThink’s AI assistance solution is a virtual calling technology platform, which coordinates with all stakeholders in the delivery network. It connects the online seller, logistics partner and the end customer to ensure efficient monitoring of the parcel. “We manage the entire shipment delivery lifecycle,” says Vipul.
This company sells its solution to an online seller where the logistics partner also comes onboard while the end customer is only intimated through messages or calls. Once the online seller uses the solution, the platform connects with multiple logistics players to deliver the shipments. Here, the seller does not have do anything manually to track the shipment.
Vipul says, “The biggest challenge for any online seller and the logistics industry is the last mile delivery.” In a typical scenario, the individual who actually delivers multiple parcels is unlikely to complete the entire assignment, and would probably give false reasons for non-delivery.
He claims ‘wrong address’ is one of the top reasons for non-delivery. “Our technology identifies the issue much before the shipment is delivered in terms of whether the address is correct. This is more of a preventive measure and helps in maximising the shipment ratio,” he adds.
At the end customer point, iThink Logistics has developed a virtual calling assistance that can understand what a customer is saying by converting speech to text and vice versa, providing real-time updates. The technology is also able to distinguish between genuine and fake calls.
“We coordinate with all the stakeholders through different touch points like call and SMS, and our entire technology process is automated,” says Vipul. Further, the solution also maps service level agreement (SLA) metrics agreed upon by the online seller and logistics partner so that the AI solution understands the framework and is able to respond.
Benefits of the solution
According to Vipul, the strengths of iThink Logistics lies in its ability to give access to multiple logistics partners across India on a single platform, a high degree of transparency in the entire process and being able to pin-point the exact reason for a delay.
The company’s USP is that it does not charge any fees for its technology platform and instead gets a commission for every parcel delivered, making it affordable. This is a boon for a typical small online seller that usually incurs considerable upfront cost while implementing new technology.
iThink’s platform is flexible enough to integrate with any solution available and is also scalable. It allows for cost optimisation as there is an intelligent assignment of the logistics partner for the online seller.
Today, it has around 1,200 small to medium online sellers as customers. Some of the leading names are Gofyd, Prettysecrets, and Salebhai. Vipul claims they have increased delivery ratio for their online sellers by 50-60 percent and the returns have dropped by 15 percent. In essence, the shipment gets delivered on time and the lower return ratio enhances the brand image of an online seller.
iThink Logistics started off by delivering of 200-300 shipments a day, which has now reached up to 4,000.
According to Vipul, it has had 100 per cent customer retention rate and has received numerous positive referrals.
iThink Logistics has ambitious plans ahead. It is planning to come out with a solution, which has the capability of providing real-time tracking of the shipment. Today there is disposable GPS chips technology available which comes at extremely cheap rates. Further, it is also looking at the area of predictive analytics to understand beforehand what the probability of a return percentage will be. This startup is also in talks with large enterprises like Shoppers Stop.
“We can combine data of shipment and logistics, and provide the solution to assist at the last mile delivery point,” says Vipul. As of now, iThink’s platform is available only in English but it plans to make it available in other Indian languages.
“We are open to partnerships with larger logistics player provided both have a common vision. Our core focus is to innovate and solve complex problems,” he says.