[Product Roadmap] With a focus on 3PL, how logistics startup Shipsy clocked 2.5X growth in revenue
Six years ago, Soham Chokshi, Dhruv Agrawal, Himanshu Gupta, and Sahil Arora startedto address the challenges in the last mile delivery segment. They realised the supply chain and logistics sectors are all connected.
“In that sense, what we started solving in the first place was just the tip of the iceberg. We saw an urgent need to marry the physical and digital parts goods’ movement. We started expanding our platform’s capabilities to drive digital inclusion of siloed logistics aspects like first, middle, and last-mile, inter-modal and cross-border transportation for supply chain stakeholders and even customers,” Soham Chokshi tells YourStory.
What does the product do?
Smart logistics management platform Shipsy empowers enterprises and logistics providers to automate, optimise, track, and simplify end-to-end supply chain operations.
The Gurugram-based startup helps enterprises automate their supply chain management to gain visibility of end-to-end logistics operations, and making logistics sustainable, thereby curbing carbon footprint.
Moreover, it helps enterprises drive one-hour or same-day deliveries, operate in constantly evolving market dynamics, and reduce the last-mile delivery costs.
In six years, the startup has grown from 10 to over 170 employees. With the Middle East contributing 35 percent to its overall revenue, Shipsy established its regional headquarters in Dubai this year.
Soham adds, “In all, we have seen a 75 percent increase in both our clients and revenue. We are clocking a revenue growth rate of 2.5X, and our talent pool is growing at a rate of 1.5X.”
At present, Shipsy has evolved into a smart logistics management platform, enabling businesses across industries manage multiple 3PLs, simplify global trade, scale on-demand deliveries, and optimise the end-to-end movement of packages and goods.
Extending beyond aggregation
Shipsy witnessed a massive opportunity — the underlying lack of technology adoption in the logistics sector.
Some of these pertain to legacy, broken systems, and the non-availability of required skill sets to manage modern IT infrastructure.
"First, we decided to extend our aggregator model to core logistics service providers. Second, we focused on streamlining and optimising last-mile delivery operations, first-mile pickups, and finally, mid-mile logistics, completing the end-to-end transportation journey for logistics providers,” the co-founder adds.
Shipsy hypothesised that if core logistics providers were struggling with visibility, businesses hiring these companies would face greater challenges of gaining visibility and control over goods movement.
“Hence, we upgraded our solution to a unified platform, enabling enterprises to seamlessly work with and manage multiple logistics service providers,” says Soham.
Founders of Shipsy - Soham Chokshi, Dhruv Agrawal, Himanshu Gupta, and Sahil Arora
Scaling the platform
He adds, “The challenges we set out to address were not just region-specific. These existed across the globe, driving us to focus on international logistics operations — the export and import (EXIM) side of supply chain operations.”
Focusing on the growing need for on-demand and hyperlocal deliveries, Shipsy took its India-specific solution to adapt to the Middle Eastern markets.
“We kept on expanding our tech capabilities according to customer needs, bringing more industries and global brands into our ambit. In a way, customers' requirements and their unique business and geography-specific challenges, including the need for Arabic UI for Saudi Arabia-based businesses, poor address quality, etc., are driving our product evolution,” he explains.
It took almost two months for Shipsy to build the prototype for last-mile delivery. For ensuring rapid scalability, security, and greater computing power, the startup partnered with a large cloud service provider, but it faced roadblocks while building the app.
“We did our R&D by observing operations on ground zero and evaluating the challenges, innovating, brainstorming ideas, and constantly getting those observations validated by our anchor customers,” Soham says.
Some of Shipsy’s team members also accompanied delivery agents to take a closer look at their daily operations, which helped them incorporate key features like ePOD, geocoding, etc., in the app.
“Your first go-to-market cannot be done if you keep yourself tied to a room. We visited our customers' hubs and warehouses, drove around with them, and designed a solution to generate greater value. This eliminated the guesswork to knowing the challenges customers faced, helping us partner with many other businesses,” adds Soham.
Building an agile ecosystem
However, a simple yet agile interface was critical to address the most complex logistics challenges, which a hub manager or a driver can use with equal ease.
“We had customer inputs topped with our own observations, which significantly shortened the MVP cycle by weeks. And, the final version was up and running in two months. You can gauge the user feedback and product convenience because they continue to be a part of our long list of happy customers,” says Soham.
As the team got deeper into the process, they felt the need for more data to optimise the operations. For instance, en-route order clubbing is about seamlessly combining and accurately timing delivery and pickups logistics.
The team was dependent on data displaying the real-time location of drivers, their distance from the delivery location, and routes to plan better.
In a way, route planning and optimisation rely on geocoding to deliver desired results. Similarly, the success of one capability created the need for another, Soham adds.
As far as user feedback is concerned, Shipsy engages in first principles thinking and discussions revolving around form versus function.
“We quickly understood the design of our solution needs to be highly user-oriented. For instance, sometimes it happens that end-users accidentally click on buttons they would not have otherwise. To deal with this, we introduced ‘swipes’ in most of our critical application interfaces to mitigate such problems,” Soham explains.
To guarantee ease of use, it was vital for Shipsy to ensure end-users were guided more by design and not just by text-based instructions. It focused on simple things, including making a button red to signify 'wrong' or 'cancellation', while a green one to signify 'complete’, 'continue', etc.
Soham continues, “In another instance, we learned people working on-ground often change their device's time to match their KPIs. We had to build capabilities that eliminated or accurately captured such fraudulent activities. Feedbacks like these constantly help us make our solution intuitive and full-proof. Thus, before going to market with a new solution or even a new feature, we always work with our anchor customers.”
He explains Shipsy approaches business differently. It went to market with a balance sheet approach, where it enveloped assets it had built, which helped it create a robust platform and gain more customers even with minimal resources. It also empowered the team to attract new talent.
“It's inspiring to see the then interns now heading critical portfolios at Shipsy. The entire team dedicated themselves to creating a great product. Our solutions are now empowering us to explore global markets, and it's a key reason behind our growth,” he says.
Challenges of building such a platform
One of the key challenges was building a robust platform that addresses the problems of multiple stakeholders with limited resources. The platform was constantly evolving with more feedback coming in and more customers from different industries getting on board. So, the team had to continually embrace new technologies and add more capabilities to the existing stack.
“To keep up with the supply chain industry's emerging trends and customer expectations, we constantly had to add modern tools and disruptive technologies. For instance, we had to dive deep and understand how we can optimise our cloud infrastructure, improve data processing capabilities, empower our customers to make highly accurate decisions, etc. This automatically guided us towards embracing modern technologies, including AI, Machine Learning, IoT, Big Data Analytics, business intelligence tools, and more,” explains Soham.
He adds trust is essential to digital adoption. While the logistics sector still lags in technology deployment due to a lack of data security and transparency in the ecosystem, Shipsy plans to leverage new-age technologies like blockchain to foster trust among the supply chain stakeholders.
“As things move forward, we also intend to integrate with newer delivery modes such as drones and autonomous vehicles. We look forward to establishing ourselves as a platform company by rolling out multiple services for trade, finance, insurance, etc., and more transactions. These integrated services will help us expand our operational ambit and get a more significant share of the pie. We plan to create value for all stakeholders, irrespective of size, and monetise capabilities innovatively,” says Soham.