INNOVATORS VS COVID 19
Digitalizing Your Supply Chain to Stay Competitive, Agile, and Flexible in the Ever-Changing Economy
We talked to Prashant Dadlani of blu about the solution to all retail logistics needs and the following is what he said about it.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded blu.
Prashant Dadlani: Hello! Thank you for shortlisting blu to be featured! I am the founder of blu and an idea that came about as I’ve noticed glaring inertia in the way shopping items are delivered in Singapore. Millions of people around the world tap away on virtual shelves and complete purchases with an instant click. They still have to wait for days or even weeks before receiving the items at their designated addresses.
Seeing this as an anachronistic problem in a digital age, blu was founded as the reimagined future of retail and logistics – both of which are Singapore’s vital economic pillars that still stand to grow stronger with the use of technology. While still studying at SMU, I introduced blu as a company that leverages smart technology at every step of retail logistics – from a digital platform with strong order processing and management capabilities, cutting-edge robotics for space-efficient storage and retrieval mechanism, to a conveniently located network of self-collection points.
What sets blu apart?
Prashant Dadlani: What sets blu apart is that it provides services beyond last-mile logistics by going higher up the retail value chain; these services range from the order and inventory management to warehousing and order fulfillment. With such end-to-end integration, orders can be placed, fulfilled, and delivered to a bluPort parcel locker within a day.
This process is highly automatic, so retailers can achieve synergy and focus more on developing the best brand and customer experiences. And because bluPort is brand agnostic, any retailer or logistics service provider can leverage the expanding bluPort network to improve their operation workflows and reduce the cost of redeliveries.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Prashant Dadlani: Our end-to-end digitalized and integrated solutions are not just ideals and proved effective and relevant when COVID-19 happened. Logistically, we were able to support our eCommerce retailers to remain fully operational (with minimal disruption) and maintain same-day service levels even during seasonal peaks by leveraging blu’s scalable, automated fulfillment and last-mile capabilities.
Our technologically advanced warehousing and fulfillment facility enable real-time inventory tracking, providing the necessary visibility our partners need to anticipate the operating environment and make informed business decisions.
What are the lessons learned/observations since the pandemic?
Prashant Dadlani: Since the pandemic, we have received an increased number of inquiries as retailers become more receptive and convinced to automate processes. However, it still remains a challenge for traditional larger retailers – to walk away from long-standing processes in favor of new practices. Not to mention the amount of capital investment digitalization usually necessitates.
We understand that digital transformation is a process that requires time, effort, and capital, as well as cultural change throughout the organization. In fast-changing markets, businesses need to discern where to channel their digital efforts, and digitalizing an entire supply chain may prove daunting and challenging. An option for businesses is to work with a single third-party service provider with relevant expertise and access to pertinent infrastructure. Not only can third-party providers offer customized solutions to best suit business needs, centralized management of the entire logistics process too, provides better visibility and streamline decision-making processes with more accurate insights for businesses.
What are the key benefits of digitalizing supply chains with a third-party provider?
Prashant Dadlani: First, the ability to manage demand peaks and troughs. Businesses often struggle with maintaining a balance between accurate forecasting and actual demand. Excess storage space, stock, and manpower represent an avoidable cost but, without the extra storage capacity, firms may be hard-pressed to fulfill orders in the event of a demand spike. When parcel volume peaks, it may not be feasible to scale operations in time as warehouse capacity can be limited by infrastructural space, workers, or vehicles available. Instead of bearing this burden, working with a partner gives businesses access to dedicated infrastructure and tools, empowering them with the agility and flexibility to react to demand fluctuations efficiently and cost-effectively.
Second, the ability to focus on core competencies. Inventory management, order fulfillment, and last-mile delivery are time-consuming yet essential processes. Businesses should evaluate if they wish to nurture these skill sets internally as core competencies; otherwise, they should consider leveraging the expertise of trained professionals and their best-in-class technology to increase productivity.
Lastly, the ability to keep fixed costs low. Taking fulfillment and delivery in-house entails significant time and effort invested in planning and development, as well as tremendous amounts of capital investment in warehousing and distribution infrastructure, staffing, and equipment. Further, as technology advances, businesses have to dedicate resources to maintaining and upgrading their technologies and infrastructure over time. Choosing to work with a trusted partner helps firms save on these costs and keep lower overheads. The capital can be channeled into developing other core competencies to stay competitive in the long run.
Your final thoughts?
Prashant Dadlani: With COVID-19 being the ‘new norm,’ instead of putting in place contingency plans and processes, a more effective route will be to seek and implement ‘COVID-proof’ processes to ensure business continuity in the event of another outbreak at any time.
blu has helped partners digitalize their supply chains and grow their businesses. From its inception, blu has pioneered new, innovative ways of thinking about logistics and supply chain management by applying systemic innovation throughout the value chain instead of making piecemeal improvements.
Upstream, its technologically-advanced warehousing and fulfillment facility enables real-time inventory tracking – goods are securely stored, and orders are fulfilled swiftly and accurately with piece-level precision – providing the necessary visibility to anticipate the operating environment and make better decisions.
Downstream, blu operates one of the largest automated parcel terminal networks in Singapore, known as bluPort. The connected fulfillment and delivery processes facilitate same-day service levels for pick, pack, and deliver to bluPort, allowing partners and their customers to enjoy speedy, secure, and contactless deliveries. Using bluPort, the last mile challenges like unpredictability in transit and missed deliveries due to customer unavailability have been eliminated, yielding bonus cost savings. The extensive bluPort network also enables seamless parcel returns, helping businesses encourage sales and boost customer loyalty.
With the new and improved blu eCommerce Hub, blu is poised to become the eCommerce fulfillment and retail logistics partner of choice for businesses. By leveraging blu’s scalable, automated fulfillment and last-mile capabilities, partners can work with blu to digitalize their supply chains – empowering them with agility, flexibility, and stability to capitalize on the eCommerce boom, respond quickly to unpredictable shifts in the global economy, and stay ahead of the curve.
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