Smart routing, contactless deliveries, optimised costs: How Covid drove MSMEs to embed tech in logistics

Updated: Aug 12, 2020 12:21 PM

Logistics for MSMEs: Ensuring fast and safe movement of goods amidst these turbulent times became a challenge, and therefore logistics assumed an utmost important role in the Covid-19 scenario, helping businesses continue their operations.

The announcement of relief measures by the government to empower the SMEs underlines the unparalleled importance of the sector.
  • By Abhik Mitra

Logistics for MSMEs: The Covid-19 pandemic, which took the world by sheer surprise this year, has brutally impacted the operations of multiple sectors nationwide. For small and medium businesses (SMEs), the impact has been dire due to their comparatively low financial resilience and also higher vulnerability, both linked to their size. At present, there are around 36 million SMEs operating the country, generating 80 million employment opportunities and contributing 8 per cent to India’s GDP. Being a vital part of India’s economic structure, their well-being has always been of critical importance. 

The unanticipated crisis hurt demand for SME products manufactured by companies. Unwanted disruptions in their supply chain caused frequent lockdowns, grounded airlines, restricted road transport, border controls, and similar other obstacles, further impacted sales.

Ensuring fast and safe movement of goods amidst these turbulent times became a challenge, and therefore logistics assumed an utmost important role in the Covid-19 scenario, helping businesses continue their operations. More so in case of essential commodities, where maintaining an optimum supply chain became the need of the hour for SMEs, so as to be able to meet the consumer demand in time and also ensure their own survival, new-age logistics came to the rescue.

Technology-driven logistics service providers, who offer paperless and no/low contact operations, have assumed a key role giving power to small businesses to improve their deliveries and streamline them in the best possible manner. 

With the customer-centric approach, companies now need to deliver best-in-class customer experience. The SME industry despite having the benefits of agility and innovation needs to constantly deliver consistent quality service as offered by the larger players. This is where technology and automation became an imperative solution to SMEs.

Also read: Govt directing embassies to understand countries’ apparel needs for Indian MSMEs to export more: Gadkari

Businesses, which were earlier reluctant to embed technology in their logistics operations, were quick to resort to new supply chain tools that offered a gamut of benefits like improved visibility across the entire distribution network, intelligent routing, contactless deliveries, logistics cost optimization, etc. Moreover, advances in artificial intelligence, machine learning, and other technologies have given a fresh perspective to logistics, also giving small businesses access to smart analytics and enhancing efficiency, at no extra cost.

Logistics technology companies, which devise and offer solutions meant for enhancing logistics operations, have been coming up with new smart tools that could help SMEs fast-track their supply chain operations. Some of the leading companies have also been offering their existing delivery optimization software at nominal or no costs, in a bid to provide the necessary logistics support required to sail through these financially unviable times. By urging them to deploy the next-gen tools and adopt smart logistics strategies, small businesses are being assisted in readily transforming their supply chain models and enhancing efficiency.

The announcement of relief measures by the government to empower the SMEs underlines the unparalleled importance of the sector. Digital transformation and effective logistics management have become an important requisite for smaller businesses. Strong supply chain management, delivered by technology-driven logistics companies can go a long way in ensuring that SME customers can continue to thrive even in a difficult environment.

Abhik Mitra is the MD & CEO of Spoton Logistics. Views expressed are the author’s own.

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