The transportation industry is evolving with a variety of information and advanced planning tools today that each serves a specific purpose. And Big data and predictive analytics stand to be a megatrend in the transportation industry.
Locus.sh is one such company that is thriving its logistics management platform to enable enterprises to manage their distributions with the help of various features such as automated smart dispatches, tracking, and fleet visualization, proprietary geocoder and proprietary route deviation engine.
Nishith Rastogi, Co-founder and CEO, Locus.sh in an interview with Techseen discusses the advanced technology that comes to play in bringing about a difference in the logistics industry. Excerpts:
Techseen: What data analytics and business process strategy services does Locus.sh offer?
Rastogi: Primarily, Locus is a Logistics Automation platform, which optimizes operations to provide consistency, efficiency and transparency. Our various optimization and automation engines facilitate better management through visualization. Our solutions include Route Optimization, Packing Engine, Tracking, and Reporting. Locus offers the following benefits to its clients:
- Enhance Fleet Capacity Utilization
- Minimize Distance Travelled and Fuel Usage
- Achieve Operational Efficiency
- Streamline Delivery Process
- Deliver Exceptional Customer Experience
Techseen: How does real-time data and the ability to run reports simultaneously help making better business decisions?
Rastogi: When we plan a route, there may be multiple factors that may affect the execution of the routes on ground for example, traffic, road blocks, increased transaction time etc. Our system is flexible enough to use the real time data to incorporate those factors and make changes or inform the customer before it causes a hindrance for the client or the end user. Predictable alerts that are generated by our optimization engine allow the warehouse managers to react and make necessary decisions when needed.
Techseen: Which data center/s have you tied up with for data storage and app hosting capabilities?
Rastogi: Currently, we use the Amazon Web services and Microsoft Azure for data storage and app hosting.
Techseen: What Predictive Analytics tools do you employ to help your clients seek key insights?
Rastogi: Using real time traffic data, and our proprietary route deviation engine, we provide predictions like ETA’s among others which helps warehouse managers make better decisions.
Techseen: In May this year, Locus.sh announced $2.75 million in Series A funding. How do you plan to utilize this fund?
Rastogi: The funds will be deployed in hiring and building technologies. We believe that a company is built by the team and we are committing a significant amount of our time and resources in hiring the right talent.
We want to deepen our engineering and data science team and build great products that solve challenges in the logistics space.
Techseen: Why did you choose to work on a pay per transaction model? Don’t you think a subscription model would help you garner higher revenue?
Rastogi: Locus works on a pay-as-you-go model simply because we want our clients to realize the value we add to their business and then charge them a percentage of the value we added to them, in terms of savings on cost, time and resources.
Clients do not need to be burdened by an annual contract or subscription, we want to be flexible and customer friendly. They pay us only when they use us. We strongly believe that Locus grows with its customer’s growth.
Techseen: What is your USP over other native players?
Rastogi: What sets us apart from other players mainly is that Locus’ route planning and optimization engine takes into consideration real world conditions. We have made sure that it works on ground despite all issues that are typical in India for example, manually inputted addresses is one of the major challenges that the logistics industry faces since there could be multiple ways of inputting an address which depends on person to person. Our proprietary geocoder effectively solves this to provide accurate locations.
Apart from this, we have recently launched a new product called a packing engine which gives efficient packing configurations for loading cargo into containers. The engine honors stipulations like stacking and orientations and packing arrangements like LIFO.
Techseen: Do you plan to integrate Internet of things (IoT) platforms and drones to enable automated delivery?
Rastogi: By 2020, we aim to automate all human decisions in dispatching a package from Point A to Point B. We are looking at streamlining the flow of goods within the warehouse and at the loading bays. Optimistically looking at the future, we want to automate deliveries using drones and self driving vehicles, leading to efficiency and consistency in the entire delivery process.
Techseen: Do you have a differential pricing for early stage startups who can’t afford a straight up fixed fee?
Rastogi: We do not charge a fixed fee for any of our clients. We charge every company a percentage of the cost savings accrued by using Locus’ technology in their operations. This becomes easy for companies of all sizes to use our product.
We have a pure transaction based pricing model so that we are aligned with our clients business goals.
So when we say transactions, the ticket sizes also vary, for example, for someone who sells furniture, the product prices are much higher as compared to a food tech company.
Techseen: What is your stand on the efficacy of transport infrastructure in India?
Rastogi: The backbone of the entire supply chain is the transportation management. Also, India has the second largest road network across the world at 4.7 million km. Inspite of this, transportation is one of the biggest challenges faced by companies dependent on transportation of goods. Most of the inefficiencies faced are due to lack of technology adoption. However, this trend is slowly evolving.
Techseen: Do you think digital automation is/would be eating into job opportunities?
Rastogi: People have been worried about automation related job losses many times in the past, especially during industrial revolution or mass scale computer usage. But the truth is, even if there are short term losses, new opportunities arise in novel enterprises that are based on these nascent technologies and the overall quality of life improves for everyone.
Techseen: Currently, you are automating intra-city logistics for leading enterprises in India. Do you have any upcoming plans of expanding your reach to other nations?
Rastogi: Yes, we are already working with clients in the Middle East and South-East Asia. We plan to further tap into multiple countries like China, Japan, etc. In fact, while building our Geocoder we ensured that it works not only in India, but in other countries as well. It is like Bane’s famous quote from the Batman movie: “You have merely adopted the dark. I was born in it.” If our system works in India, it can work anywhere else.
Techseen: What’s your current team strength and do plan to expand anytime soon?
Rastogi: Well, from 2015 to 2016, we have grown from a team of 8 to 30 today. We plan to hire more engineers and data scientists to add to a team which is primarily engineering focused.