We sat down with Aqil Ashique, the CEO of Driver logistics, a leading 3PL services company in India that offers turn-key cloud-based delivery solutions to their customers. In 2019, Aqil Ashique started Driver Logistics with his father and poured in everything he had learned over the years. He bootstrapped his way up to building an LTL (Less-than-truckload) shipping model suitable to Indian business conditions, for transporting goods that do not need a complete truck or trailer.
In the past 3 years, Driver logistics has scaled its operations to serve over 8000 pin codes across India with warehouses in 44 locations, shipping over 1 million packages each month for its customers.
In today’s edition, we sat down with Aqil to chat about starting a logistics company from scratch, the importance of a vendor-supplier relationship that drives growth, and the perks of being tech-first.
If you’re short on time, here are a few quick takeaways:
- For businesses that rely heavily on operations, getting the right information to the right people at the right time is critical.
- Power BI and similar business intelligence tools are great in general, but they tend to make your operations teams more reactive rather than proactive.
- Technology upgrades are not prioritized by leaders in organizations due to obstacles such as bandwidth, implementation time, and costs. New-age platforms like Locale could solve such legacy issues much more quickly.
If you enjoy our discussion, check out more of our customer stories. You can also follow us on Linkedin and Youtube for more updates. What follows is a lightly edited transcript of our conversation with Aqil.
Landing in the Logistics Business and Scaling it
Siddharth: Welcome to the interview Aqil, thank you so much for joining us. You’ve had such a remarkable journey building an LTL business. I’d love to begin with you telling us more about how it all started and how's the business doing?
Aqil: I come from a business background and my dad was indirectly involved in logistics so we had almost a decade's worth of experience in this sector. I’ve always wanted to start something of my own and when I finished my graduation, I thought why not extend his existing services that operated from just a few warehouses into a full-fledged end-to-end fulfillment business? This is how Driver Logistics came into existence.
We are just 3 years old today, and we’ve collectively brought over a decade of experience in the logistics sector to the business. This gave us a quick head start, because of which we could put all our energy into building a fulfillment network that was industry agnostic.
We have evolved into a regional end-to-end fulfillment partner for FMCG, Consumables, Automobile, and Chemical companies today. Currently, we operate in over 6 Indian states and manage close to one million square feet of space and do about 18 thousand trips a month to fulfill over one million shipments.
Challenges of running an LTL network
Siddharth: So, what were your internal challenges in building your LTL network?
Aqil: Driver Drop is our latest offering where we offer LTL services to our clients. When we started this 10 months ago, we saw a massive rise in the number of touchpoints needed to cater to the demand. We suddenly had to pick up shipments from numerous pickup points across 14 districts. Ensuring smoother operations and proper communications with a distributed team of this size was certainly a challenging task.
Siddharth: Absolutely. Would it be fair to say that, before Locale, you were trying to solve these operational challenges by building custom solutions internally? Would you like to tell us more about that experience?
Aqil: Well, we are a tech-first company. When you have a large number of hubs, understanding shortfalls and inefficiencies in the network is still a challenge even with every bit of granular data available. If you don't have a sense of what's happening on the ground in real-time, knowing who will take what actions at what time can be a tedious task.
In some cases, this was also a challenge for our customers. Our customers can access the status of their shipments anytime through a tracking portal, they expected to be notified of delays in advance.
Our team tried many different ways to solve this problem, including sending out shipment summary reports to all customers. Every evening, one of our developers would manually trigger emails to customers whose shipments were delayed due to any reason.
Well, this was before Locale. Thankfully we don’t have to do this anymore!
The “Delays” Problem
Siddharth: Got it, tell us why did you decide to move to real-time Alerts?
Aqil: As a logistics company, our job obviously is to make sure that our customers’ goods are delivered on time. We have a strict 48-hour Service Level Agreement with our clients. This means, whatever we pick up this evening has to be delivered tomorrow by the end of the day.
We used several BI tools but we noticed that BI tools made us more and more reactive and didn’t provide us with any means to take decisions proactively.
Besides having a look at reports and dashboards every 10 days, tools like Power BI were not of any help to us — especially in this area. The ability to convert incoming alerts into tickets in real time was a huge proposition for us — that’s why Locale naturally made sense. Otherwise, we would have to maintain a separate tool for Alerting, ticketing, and incident management.
So we had to find a solution that could alert the necessary people in real time if anything went wrong in our network. This was one of the easiest implementations I’ve seen. A large part of my operations team could see immediately see value in what Locale offered and the speed at which we could integrate our database with your platform and setup Alerts made the whole transition a lot simpler for my teams.
The "Locale" Impact
Siddharth: So what is the impact that you saw shifting to real-time monitoring of your ops?
Aqil: As I told you, our primary use with Locale was to monitor our SLA breaches in real time. Earlier, our customers wrote to us when they had an issue w.r.t any data on our customer portal.
Now that we're able to take proactive measures based on real-time network monitoring, our customer-facing teams are in a better position to reach out to customers much earlier.
Customer escalations have come down to zero as a result. In fact, one of my teammates who was previously responsible for monitoring customer escalations is now involved in internal marketing activities.
This had a significant positive impact on our CSAT scores as well. We’re also considering extending Alerts to other areas of our business operations.
Siddharth: That's really great to hear, and very encouraging. Finally, given the impact you’ve seen, would you recommend Locale alerts to other companies in your space or otherwise?
Aqil: Hundred percent. I’d in fact recommend any Operations heavy business with a data warehouse to give locale a shot. Not just operations, but even other business functions like finance and accounting can streamline a lot of their internal process with something as powerful as Alerts which Locale offers. The world we live in today already has a lot of data. What really makes the difference is when that data is in the right hands, at the right time.
Leaders in organizations today tend to not prioritize technological upgrades internally due to barriers like bandwidth, implementation time, and costs, and new-age platforms like Locale have the potential to solve such legacy issues at much faster speeds.
Businesses that understand this should definitely check out Locale.
Siddharth: How do you see yourself expanding alerts to other aspects of your business operations?
Aqil: Our upcoming plans include extending real-time monitoring to other business functions like invoicing and accounting as well. These departments have their own unique workflows and approval flows and we could really use real-time alerts in making these processes more efficient.
Our teams look quite happy with the WhatsApp integration you rolled out recently as they’re able to act on issues without having to through any additional training.
Also, we are actively hiring for various positions. Anyone who's interested and inspired by our vision can visit our careers page to get in touch with us.
Siddharth: Thanks a lot for taking out the time to do this interview, Aqil. It’s been a pleasure talking to you!
If you are eager to know more about how Locale helps you set up Alerts, Book a call with one of our specialists to have all your questions answered today!
Go check out our product for yourself and sign up now: https://go.locale.ai/signup