[Product Roadmap] How FarEye’s focus on flexibility and customisation allows it to adapt in the toughest of times
A product roadmap clarifies the why, what, and how behind what a tech startup is building. This week, we take a closer look at logistics startup FarEye, which uses predictive technology to make logistics efficient for brands and consumers.
No other industry has perhaps grown as fast as logistics over the last decade. Recent studies pitch the market potential of the industry at $215 billion, up from $125 billion currently, but even that is a conservative outlook.
If India were to decrease its logistics cost by 10 percent, exports could increase close to eight percent, according to a 2017-2018 survey by the Government of India, although those numbers could change because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The sector is particularly important for global economies because of the hundreds of little ancillary industries it supports. Essentially, logistics help brands reach consumers without much resistance, thereby creating a positive buying experience and ensuring repeat orders.
But to make the store-to-home experience seamless, it is necessary that the behind-the-scenes processes are optimised and can catch redundancies before they cause monetary losses.
That is what FarEye aims to do – the logistics SaaS platform, using predictive visibility, enables brands to orchestrate, track, and optimise its inventory, stocking, and shipping processes.
“We focus on increasing efficiency in the movement of goods for both B2B and B2C platforms, and help businesses achieve growth and exceptional customer experience at a reduced cost,” says Kushal Nahata, Co-founder and CEO of FarEye.
Founded in 2013 by Kushal, Gautam Kumar, and Gaurav Srivastava, the cloud-based startup lets businesses access its platform anytime, anywhere. It also supports rapid scaling, quick go-lives, and helps businesses get centralised visibility and control of their shipment deliveries on a real-time basis.
For consumers, FarEye’s platform allows flexible delivery scheduling, pick-up from authorised centres, and ‘Uber’-like tracking, among several other features.
“Enterprises are leveraging the platform to improve operational efficiencies by using driver crowdsourcing, auto-allocation, geofencing, real-time dynamic routing, and customer DNA mapping,” adds Kushal.
He explains that the platform’s pre-built connector ecosystem facilitates easy management of multiple third-party logistics and transportation partners, which can be easily integrated with its IT systems. This ready-to-roll, plug-and-play model is a huge value addition to IT teams.
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The pandemic push
While the pandemic has disrupted and caused troubles in the logistics sector, FarEye has been able to focus on home-delivering essentials since it works with both B2B and B2C companies.
“Retailers of essential services across the globe are facing some tough times as the onus of making sure essential commodities reach end customers is their responsibility,” adds Kushal. To make it easier, FarEye is helping companies:
- Build supply chain operations that are resilient to demand shocks and can quickly respond to ecosystem disruptions
- Leverage the power of technology - from machine learning to mobility - to achieve efficient, uninterrupted, and contactless home deliveries
- Increase coverage and deliveries through intelligent routing
- Provide contactless deliveries through a wallet-enabled app with no card and cash transactions
- Onboard temporary staff immediately
- Provide a smartphone app for drivers to ensure real-time communication with customers
- Remote instant go-live to commence operations
The platform is offering its home delivery optimisation technology – FarEye Serve – as a support to retailers at zero cost.
“With Serve, we are enabling up to 30,000 deliveries of essential items each day. We have partnered with a range of organisations – from NGOs, and farm-to-fork chains, to online grocery and essential products providers in India, Southeast Asia, the UK, and the US,” said Kushal.
Some of the companies FarEye has been working with include Feed the Hungry, Gughe Farms, Food for All, Orami, and Pacific Mobility Inc.
The startup has helped shrink delivery turn-around-time by 27 percent, eliminate risks by up to 57 percent, and increase courier productivity by 15 percent.
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Why focus on customisability?
What made breaking into the logistics sector easier for FarEye was customisability. The team had early on realised that there was no ‘one size fits all’ approach in the industry.
They also learned that things like scalability, finding the sweet spot where customer experience meets profitability, system interoperability, and increasing logistics visibility were some of the major drivers behind the digitisation of core logistics processes.
“Initially we started off with 10 people, and our solution was more inclined towards optimising fleet management by ensuring high-levels of logistics visibility – a problem that has been quietly feeding on the profitability of business across the world,” says Kushal.
After onboarding its first ecommerce customer, the team quickly learned that the demand for online deliveries would skyrocket in the coming years, and with it, customer expectations.
“(We realised that) things like instant gratification, faster and flexible deliveries, and high levels of delivery transparency will become an intrinsic part of the last-mile,” said Kushal.
To meet these demands head-on, FarEye began optimising its solution by adding features such as accurate delay predictions, efficient multi-drop delivery routes, accurate ETAs, real-time updates on delivery progress, and quick resolution of tickets, among others.
The startup focussed on rapidly escalating its efforts on honing the capabilities of disruptive technologies like machine learning, predictive analytics, business intelligence, natural-language-processing, and so on.
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Focussing on key areas
Automation and system interoperability were two key areas that the team started rigorously focussing on. To ensure efficient and faster deliveries, and boost end-to-end visibility of last-mile operations, these two aspects had a critical role to play.
“We realised that a major reason behind enterprises shying away from embracing digital tools was legacy infrastructure and the fear of having to replace existing IT-infrastructure,” says Kushal.
The team began to develop solutions to integrate the platform with existing systems.
The integration helped businesses gain more visibility of ground-level delivery operations, and to help further optimise deliveries, FarEye started rolling-out advanced automation capabilities for enterprises, where it could automate route planning, allocate tasks, and look into diversion and delays, among other things, all of which helped the startup significantly reduce its delivery turn-around time.
Working with daily changes
The online delivery industry keeps evolving at a rapid pace, and therefore, demands lots of increases in automation levels, and improved delivery experience. The team has focussed on all these aspects and added tools and processes that would help form a robust platform. They then knit all these together to create a smooth, seamless experience.
Citing an example, Kushal says, “Owing to the lockdowns triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a sudden need to rapidly scale home delivery of essential products. Contactless, cashless, and ‘leave-at- door’ deliveries are becoming the new normal. The delivery ecosystem now is very different from the one we knew just a few months back.”
Therefore, building capabilities that will help brands efficiently and seamlessly operate even in a crisis is pertinent.
The startup says its solutions have all been designed after a thorough analysis of challenges customers face, future requirements of different industries, and what its customers want.
Always being tech-first
The tech-talent pool at FarEye consists user experience, back-end/front-end, DevOps, data intelligence, location intelligence, machine learning, and IoT teams, which are experts in languages and software such as ElasticSearch, Hadoop, Redshift, Java, Ruby, PHP, Node, React, Android, SQL, Splunk, and Python, among others.
Kushal adds that they have also developed gamification features to boost delivery productivity, and introduced a ‘Parcel-Shop Technology’ to increase customer experience and reduce ownership costs. This helps in the facilitation of quick and secure, paperless delivery of parcels.
One can book multiple parcels under one sender’s ID, and on the backend, the data entry process converts all the images into data. The parcel collects an electronic proof of transfer once it is handed to the courier, and the customer gives an electronic proof of delivery
In April, the platform raised a Series D investment of $25 million, led by M12 (Microsoft’s venture fund), Eight Roads Ventures, Honeywell Ventures, and Saif Partners.
The startup claims to be present across 20 countries, and has traction with more than 150 global retailers, CPG companies, and logistics and transportation providers, including DHL, Amway, Dominos, Walmart, Johnson & Johnson, and Hilti. It says it handles more than 10 million transactions, every day, across the globe.
"We always get excited about new technologies and are constantly fiddling with ideas like teleportation and working on strategies to integrate futuristic technologies like drones and blockchain,” says Kushal.
(Edited by Aparajita Saxena)
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