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Building a Technology Driven Logistics Service

Ishan Singh Bedi, CEO, Synchronized Supply Systems Pvt. Ltd.
19th April 2021

Girish V S, Director ISCM talks to Ishan Singh Bedi, CEO, Synchronized Supply Systems Pvt. Ltd., on why technology is a game-changer in Logistics.

Q1. Why did you choose to join the family business?

Ans. My family business was into international logistics; therefore, I had an inclination towards joining the family business. I studied logistics to make my career, however, I’d never thought that I would will establish my own company. Perhaps, it was destiny.

Q2. The pandemic has changed the supply-demand equation for companies, leading to high levels of uncertainty. What is the likely logistics scenario in the near term and long term?

Ans. There is a lot of uncertainty in the market due to COVID-19. The recovery has begun and it seems strong. An indication of this is the domestic freight rates, that are at an all-time high, this is a good indicator of the activity in the economy.

Further the government is providing a push for the industry so that it can be revived from the slumber. The manufacturing industry is getting ample support through a production-linked incentive (PLI) and the focus on domestic manufacturing through “Atmanirbhar”. If manufacturing grows then logistics requirements will also increase. The future seems bright for the logistics industry with the investments being done in both infrastructure and manufacturing.

Q3. What distinguishes your offering? What are the significant achievements in the company?

Ans. The 3PL industry basically provides 3 major services, namely transportation, warehousing and value added services. The market is quite crowded and hence the need to have a sustainable competitive advantage is key. Our competitive advantage stems from the following

Strong focus on technology – Through experience we understood the significance technology has in the logistics industry, back in 2015. We use technology to provide better warehousing and trucking services. That is when we started building technology to supplement the services we are offering to our customers. As time has gone by our services have gotten more robust, and our strong focus on productivity improvements and visibility, for our customers operations, are beginning to pay off.   

Integrated services – There is a tendency amongst the competition to become specialists in either one of the two key services i.e. warehousing or distribution. This is quite unusual as globally both services are provided with equal efficiency by a 3PL company. Customers demand both services hand in hand. Our focus from the start has been to be specialists at both. We are specialists at running warehouses and running trucks and understand that one cannot go without the other.

Q4. Logistics industry in India is getting competitive. What distinguishes Synchronized from its competitors? Why does a customer, rely on Synchronized and not someone else?

Ans. At the backbone of efficient logistics is technology. Hence the short answer is Technology. At Synchronized we have been developing technology for 5 years now and our solutions are quite refined. What this means is that the technologies that we have developed are easy to implement, seamless, cost effective and custom made to the Indian logistics environment. Our logistics services are better because of our proprietary technology.

Logistics does not have 5 large problems to solve with technology. If it did, somebody (competitor) would have already solved them. Instead we find that it is an industry with a million small problems and one really has no way forward but to solve each one of them individually

It is common practice amongst our competitors to adopt systems (WMS/DMS) made in the west. While those systems are very good in their native logistics environments, they are very hard to execute in the Indian environment and typically that is what happens. The implementation of these systems is less than ideal and the usage is low and the benefits are restricted. You can’t plug and play.

Further the foreign technologies that do work in a restricted Indian logistics environment require regular improvements (as technology is not static), this is very expensive when the software’s are procured from a third party and every update carries a heavy cost.

In contrast our technology is proprietary, made keeping the Indian logistics environment in mind and is made in-house. This allows us to execute it better and adapt quicker to changing trends in the industry and at the same time deliver excellent services to our customers.

Q5. How does your service improve logistics resilience? What risk management practices do you follow?

Ans. Our focus on technology has built in resilience within our processes. Our processes are not people dependent and are more technology dependent.  For example pickers in our warehouses don’t need product knowledge and rely on technology for product identification.

Our focus on technology has built in resilience within our processes. Our processes are not people dependent and are more technology dependent

Further the processes that have people at the core of them (e.g. drivers, pickers etc) our technology has allowed us to align the best interests of our team with the best interests of our customers/company through a rewards mechanism. For e.g. pickers are rewarded for the volume and quantity that they pick and hence increase productivity at the warehouses and for our customers.

Q6. One of the real challenges for a company as it grows exponentially, as has Synchronized, is to maintain agility and closeness to the customer. How has Synchronized retained closeness to the customer, a focus on people and agility, despite its growth and size?

Ans. One of the keystones of development have been our CRM which has enabled our customers and us to be on the same plane of visibility of the logistics operations.

Further internally we have freed all our customer facing teams entirely from burdensome administrative work like billing, cost approvals, budget management etc. This allows our Sales teams to constantly be in touch with the customers and engage with them.

Q7. Can you let us know the people strategy at Synchronized?

Ans. At Synchronized, we have a progressive work environment and an open work culture like in Tech/Startup firms. We also have a performance-based reward system which acts as the backbone of our performance management. Synchronized offers regular work from home to employees. Many employees in Synchronized have been working for extended periods over 5 years or have returned back to Synchronized after short stints elsewhere. This is a true reflection of our progressive work culture.

Q8. There are a number of aggregators coming up in the logistics space. What is your strategy to beat them?

Ans. Aggregation is the next big thing in logistics. Within a short period of time we will see some company/ies crack the model through effective execution of technology. We hope to be one of them.

Our reading of the current players/start-ups is that they have predominantly taken a top down approach to technology i.e. they come up with idea’s, build the tech and then try to execute. This often doesn’t work out.

Our approach is a bottom-up approach. We don’t put the idea first, but instead understand the challenges from the user’s perspective. This is an excruciatingly slow and painful process because the first goal is to earn the users trust and drive a behavior change in them. This is a slower process but implementation of technology is quicker and we have found more success in this process.

Logistics does not have 5 large problems to solve with technology. If it did, somebody (competitor) would have already solved them. Instead we find that it is an industry with a million small problems and one really has no way forward but to solve each one of them individually. This is a slow process but results are certain.

Q9. Information is a key element of a supply chain. What are the value-added functions you expect to offer that will establish Synchronized as the go to 3PL player in India?

Ans. Well we are in a connected world and logistics is no different. We are now in Tech 2.0, where we are now connecting our technology, with necessary permissions, with our Customer Systems (ERP’s). This is allowing us to deliver absolutely seamless solutions to our customers. Just imagine that within 20 minutes of our customer’s customer placing an order, our team has picked it, packed it and has it ready for dispatch. No lags, no delays, no follow ups, and we are getting more and more of our customers to integrate their systems with us. If the information flow is seamless then the operation is seamless.  

Q.10. What is your approach to technology? How do you choose among competing technologies?

Ans. As we’d mentioned earlier, Synchronized believes in building technology rather than choosing technology. Our ground-up approach to build tech for the Indian logistics environment has worked well for us. We prefer this approach over purchasing off the shelf tech products that are not developed keeping India in mind.

Q11. What initiatives have you taken for sustainability?

Ans. In respect to sustainability, Logistics in itself carries a heavy burden. We are no different. Trucking is an essential part of our services for our customers. For a push towards sustainability, we have typically relied on the government’s nudge towards cleaner technologies and vehicle specifications. Much of our fleet is BS VI compliant and we are exploring avenues to completely replace our fleet to the BS VI standards. ♦♦♦♦♦

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