When was the last time you received a shipment delivery on time?
The truck was stuck in traffic, road clearance issues or maybe the trucker simply lost its way to the warehouse - all these issues and more can become great challenges for companies trying to transport materials along the supply chain or deliver goods to clients.
When transporting goods through Bangladesh's traditional trucking industry you may not always lose your products, but you are almost certain to lose the most valuable commodity - time. Being able to transport goods in a short time span while keeping the cost in terms of fuel, wages, and other factors low is beneficial to both parties - shippers and truckers.
In recent years, Bangladesh is adapting to a fast-changing competitive market environment, with companies and manufacturers looking for cost-effective and efficient strategies. One sector - logistics management, transportation of commodities - can help companies improve business operations and gain a competitive advantage in their respective industries.
Enabling the key stakeholders - manufacturers, distributors, truck owners, and middlemen - Goods In Motion (GIM), an initiative by eJogajog Limited, is equipping businesses and people with tools, techniques and technology for better management and movement of goods.
By integrating technology into transport and logistics, GIM has created a platform where shippers and carriers can fully utilise their resources, reduce transportation challenges, and contribute to the economic growth of Bangladesh.
Since GIM launched digital trucking services in Apri, 2018, it has brought more than 12,000 vehicles in its fleet spread all over the country. Within its current capacity, this logistics management platform has managed to secure more than 2,800 clientele which includes PRAN, LafargeHolcim Bangladesh Limited, ACI Limited, Shah Cement and many others.
"Customers look for convenience and competitive prices. Though we can assure both, we run pilots for new clients. So far, we have been able to reduce costs and ease the good transportation process for our clients successfully," said Yaseen Fida Hossain, Senior General Manager of Product and Marketing at GIM, during an interview with The Business Standard.
GIM offers a range of trucks and pickups - flatbed open and covered trucks, refrigerated vans, petroleum tankers, tippers, concrete mixers, and more. The clients can choose from trucks, pickups or other logistic services through a competitive online bidding system that allows users to benefit from the best price in the market.
The logistics transport company faced many hurdles while implementing this new method in Bangladesh's goods transport industry. When it comes to accepting a new market approach within a market that has been following decades-old traditional methods, it is not easy for people to undergo such a transition.
For GIM, bringing about such a particular transition in the transport industry has been very challenging and it still is.
"We are still dealing with many challenges and it might take two to three years to prepare the market down the line. The market is volatile, a trip today may cost Tk10,000 and the price might reduce to Tk 8,000 or increase to Tk12,00 the next day. It is tough to set a fixed rate. However, we are currently working on a rating engine that will be able to better assess the service fee," Yaseen said.
According to him, Bangladesh's goods transport industry is worth around TK30,000 crore but unfortunately, such a huge market has a low technology adaptation capacity.
"Transport is a burning problem for manufacturers, distributors, sellers, and buyers. It is one of the most inefficient sectors in our country. Truckers are experts in handling big vehicles and shipments, analysing efficient travel routes, however, they are yet to adapt to technology," said Yaseen.
Currently, GIM is trying to enable truckers to secure more trips, especially at times when they have to return with an empty truck from a trip. "But a majority of truckers think we are trying to take away their rides - this is the biggest challenge for us and we are trying different ways to approach them," Yaseen said.
Converting from a traditional way of doing business will take time and yet, many have already agreed to work with GIM and are now reaping the benefits: getting more trips, instant payment upon completing trips. The company has been trying to approach truck owners, showing them the benefits of an aggregator platform.
"We plan to keep approaching our biggest stakeholders in different ways. Slowly, they will become more open to the new methods and thus, the market will eventually accept and get accustomed to this tech-enabled approach."
The Covid-19 pandemic put import-export to a standstill and despite the lockdown, GIM carried on with some of its projects. Transport of goods within the country continued at full capacity. GIM shut down its office premises and made a few adjustments to adapt to the pandemic. Fortunately, their team was able to quickly adapt to the work-from-home culture.
Like many companies, GIM predicted the pandemic would have a negative impact on their business but with time, their customers began adapting to the new normal. "In fact, the pandemic drove our customers to step out of the traditional working mindset. People got more accustomed to online services," said Yaseen.
The company has been carrying out research and development ever since its launch and has always studied the market. GIM envisions bringing about a positive impact on the route goods have to travel through, starting from the factory to the final consumer.
"If we look at our country's GDP, we can see that the logistics sector contributes nine to 10 percent growth to the overall GDP. Even a minimum contribution can bring about a positive impact on our GDP. Actively working with the motion of goods can contribute to the betterment of the country and its economy," said Yaseen while speaking of GIM's goals.
GIM began its journey with land transport services and has future plans of expanding its operations and creating a market for water transport. This logistics management platform wants to create a much more effective and transparent transportation channel all over the country with the aim to improve the lives of its stakeholders and the people of Bangladesh.