A massive blue tin structure along the Mohakhali DOHS gate, with the words 'Transcom' inscribed in bold white letters (until recently), is one of the most iconic commercial structures in Dhaka.
Everytime you cross the Mohakhali flyover, it's the first thing you notice - a beacon in blue amidst the mundane and drab colours emanating from surrounding concrete structures.
For the newest occupants of that facility - Paperfly Pvt Ltd - leasing the iconic structure from the Sena-Kalyan Sangstha Bangladesh has more to do with just optics.
With over 70,000 sq ft of floor area, a processing capacity of 75,000 to 100k orders per day and 600k monthly delivery capacity, Paperfly has big plans for the space, and ever bigger plans for its clients.
"We plan to consolidate the entire logistics process. By consolidating I mean that Paperfly wants to become the one-stop solution for any type of e-commerce and brick and mortar businesses," says Rahath Ahmed, the co-founder and Chief Marketing Officer of Paperfly.
"We want our new warehouse to act as the hub for products to be shuttled, fulfilled, sorted and distributed to delivery vehicles heading toward various routes across Bangladesh." Paperfly moved to the new location in July this year.
A dedicated logistics service company, Paperfly has been operating in Bangladesh since 2016 with over 1,200 employees employed at various levels, and describes itself as the 'largest doorstep delivery network' in the country. It has 144 delivery points nationwide and covers 4,554 unions.
This January, Indian logistics giant Ecom Express Ltd invested Tk100 crore in the company. Some of Paperfly's clients include Daraz Bangladesh, Evaly, Dhamaka, UShop, Aarong, Sheba.xyz, Transcom, Foodpanda and Marico Bangladesh.
During the Covid-19 pandemic when visiting malls and superstores physically turned into a health hazard, the e-commerce platform grew further in strength.
Paperfly's new warehousing facility is equipped to process all logistical procedures at once - saving time and money for both customers and businesses, funneling the saved amount back into the system.
Many people have a misconception that logistics only means delivering a product; but that is simply the tip of the iceberg. It is a vertical service where warehousing is a critical factor. The role of logistics is put into motion from product handling to delivering it to its destination.
In its new and improved warehouse, Paperfly will now be capable of processing heavy products such as TV, fridge, AC, furniture, etc with state-of-the-art heavy product processing machinery.
In addition, the warehouse also has systems such as end-to-end inventory management, international standard security, efficient product handling and more, resulting in a streamlined warehousing facility for any sort of product.
"What this facility will do for our clients is they will be able to reach their customers directly without the need to set up retail outlets, storage facilities and the like, and incur a lot of costs in the process," says Rahath.
He likened the advantage to what Chinese technology conglomerate Xiaomi did when it first entered the market. They reached customers directly by accepting only online orders and foregoing the additional costs of setting up a retail network.
Rahath's decision to have a warehousing hub in this particular location comes down to convenience.
"Mohakhali, being one of the most well-connected places in Dhaka, has more efficient transportation routes and overall better connectivity for the products to reach delivery points," he said.
Rahath emphasised the importance of updating warehousing facilities and making them compatible with technology.
"Warehousing facility was always there, but so far has only been used in a very traditional way. There has never been any update or consolidation. And we plan to consolidate it - meaning that we want to have a one-stop warehousing hub to satisfy both online and offline clients at different delivery points," said Rahath.
It is not just about delivering a product to the customer; it is also about delivering it as fast as possible, says Rahath.
Although a logistics industry has existed in the country for the last three or four decades, there has been no significant infrastructural development during this timeframe. It has been operating under the decades-old manual process.
"Yet, the industry makes up eight to 10 percent of the country's total GDP," says Rahath.
"This industry lacks investment. There's no tech involved either. If I want to know the transaction history of the products in my warehouse, I must implement technology alongside heavy financial investment".
Globally, Bangladesh has been lagging behind in this industry, even compared to other neighbouring nations. India, for instance, is one of the biggest players.
"India's logistics operations are very consolidated and standardised. There are many one-stop warehouses in India that make this process very streamlined," said Rahath.
"There's no infrastructure to support B2B warehousing needs in Bangladesh. Proper logistics infrastructure will also create employment opportunities at a mass level. There's huge potential, but the infrastructure is defragmented."
According to Rahath, both individuals and the government will be benefitted by updating the logistics industry.
"The government cannot earn due taxes as this industry is scattered. Within the industry, there are 10/20/30 more companies like us who can be easily monitored by the government if warehousing grows," he continued.
"The government is also concerned about logistics infrastructure and streamlining these services. The country needs to have more logistics companies that will transport the goods produced and imported through the EPZs and sea ports of the country."
Going forward, Rahath aims to reduce Paperfly's home delivery time from 48 hours to 24, but recognises that this will require proper capacity and infrastructure. Paperfly also has ambitions to create a stronger delivery system to deliver products all over Bangladesh. However, it is of paramount importance that Paperfly harnesses the full power of technology into its corporate responsibilities.
"Most importantly, we want technological integration to ensure commercial transparency and efficiency for both customers and businesses," said Rahath.