It was absolute chaos among Farm You’s dispatching team. Jeromie Cliffhanger’s delivery team was struggling to cope up with the sudden surge in demand for grocery home delivery. It was towards the end of February. COVID-19 positive cases crossed the 5000 mark around Farm You's locality. The local government announced strict stay at home orders. The bakeries shut shop. Local vegetable vendors, coffee shops, bars, restaurants, malls, theatres, Apple stores, among many others dropped their shutters. The streets, empty. The traffic signals were staring at empty broadways with despair. Suddenly the chirping of the birds seemed loud. An eerie vacuum consumed the whole locale.
Life will not be the same for a long time to come. Unable to go out, a panic-stricken population started buying essentials items like groceries and food online. In came an avalanche of home delivery orders at Farm You. The dispatching team at Farm You has never witnessed such demand shocks. That too for items that are seldom bought online. They were not prepared. Cliffhanger stretched his resources as much as possible but failed to meet skyrocketing demands. His team has handled demand spikes earlier. But this was new. Dispatching 500+ orders within a few minutes was not something Cliffhanger’s team was trained for. Neither did they have an IT infrastructure to support them. Soon delivery delays, order cancellations, inability to take new orders, opportunity losses, overworked delivery executives became the order of the day. Farm You’s future looked uncertain. Cliffhanger was under tremendous pressure from his CEO to bring delivery operations of all four Farm You’s outlets up to speed.
A savvy person by nature, Cliffhanger knew that it was simply not possible to depend on their regular dispatching and delivery workflows to meet these demand shocks. His team needed a robust dispatching platform. After doing some in-depth research about such platforms, Cliffhanger narrowed down on one that could quickly address the challenges he was facing. He onboarded a ‘plug and play’ dispatching platform remotely, ensuring compliance with social distancing norms and zero business disruptions.
The advanced dispatching platform automated dispatching ensured high levels of scalability and drastically reduced delivery turn-around-time. Let us quickly glance through the efficiencies that an advanced dispatching software introduces.
An advanced dispatching platform automates task allocation. It leverages a simple mobile application, that a driver needs to download, which automatically notifies delivery executives with the list of delivery tasks he needs to accomplish in a given period of time. Dispatching managers can also update delivery workflows in real-time in case they want to add or cancel tasks or change delivery location and time. This information is immediately made visible to a delivery executive through the mobile application. Hence, completely eliminating any downtime or delays and errors caused by manually dispatching delivery tasks.
One of the main criteria behind investing in an advanced dispatching platform was gaining rapid scalability and with crowdsourcing capabilities, Cliffhanger’s platform did exactly that. In simple terms, crowdsourcing logistics can be referred to as a process that empowers shippers, retailers, and grocery stores to dodge the middlemen and directly reach out to temporary or part-time delivery executives. To keep things in perspective, one can imagine this to a ride-hailing service. The difference is that instead of commuters, orders and packages are being transported through this process. Crowdsourcing ensures that drivers are onboarded based on proximity, productivity, customer ratings, cost, and so on.
Now, especially with the ongoing pandemic and nationwide lockdowns, Cliffhanger realized that crowdsourcing is not just a 'good to have' it's rapidly rising to the ranks of being a necessity for online retailers and even for brick-mortar stores. It also gives businesses a competitive advantage. An interesting survey back in 2018 accurately captured the growing phenomenon of crowdsourcing in the world of online delivery. It highlighted that the need to compete with Amazon has resulted in nearly 10% of retailers making use of crowdsourced delivery, with an additional 26% planning to do so in the future.
In the absence of a vaccine, maintaining social distancing is one of the most important ways to curb the spread of COVID-19. Hence zero-contact deliveries have become the new normal. An advanced dispatching platform empowers Cliffhanger’s team to efficiently place orders outside a customer’s door and ensure payment through a digital wallet. To add another layer of safety, such a platform also ensures that regular temperature checks of delivery executives and store staff are done. The same information is passed onto customers to boost delivery transparency and loyalty.
An advanced dispatching platform is powered by route optimization capabilities that empower delivery stakeholders to select the optimal route to deliver orders to ensure cost-effectivity. It eases the issues that logistics companies usually face due to the unavailability of vehicles or drivers while meeting customers’ short notice requirements in real-time. Moreover, route optimization in logistics takes into account real-time events such as the condition of traffic, weather conditions, fuel consumption, one-ways and more. Any type of contingency that arises during executing last-mile delivery, route optimization has a quick response to it. Through route optimization drivers can also be instantly alerted in case they accidentally venture into areas with COVID-19+ cases. Also, now Cliffhanger no longer needs to manually create routes, route optimization automates route planning, even for multi-drop deliveries. This drastically fast-tracks home delivery operations.
These are some of the key features of an advanced dispatching platform that empowered Cliffhanger bring back agility and scalability of delivery operations across all her four Farm You outlets. FarEye’s dispatching platform has been empowering grocery brands and food chains to meet skyrocketing demands quickly and efficiently for home deliveries, especially during this ongoing pandemic. To know more you can sign up for a quick demo.
'Farm You' and 'Jeromie Cliffhanger' are both fictitious names.