There was a time when online shopping was a new-fangled concept, to be treated with
wariness and suspicion. A time when if you needed new shoes for a wedding on the weekend, you’d have to leg it to the mall yourself, hop from store to store, until you found the perfect pair. Getting food delivered meant calling each restaurant, and listening patiently at the same time, they rattled off their entire menu, then called them again 30 minutes later, to check on the status of your order.
Thankfully, such times are far behind us, especially in the wake of the pandemic, which indeed established online shopping as the new way of life. But now that online retail, popularly known as e-commerce, is here to stay, it’s time we turn our attention to the new round of problems that have been cropping up.
Last year, one inconspicuous tweet by Grofers (now Blinkit) co-founder, Albinder Dhindsa, led to a lot of backlash and a heated debate about the questionable morality of promising 10-minute deliveries, as many users expressed concern for delivery executives. Presumably, Zomato missed the memo and started the same discussion earlier this year when they announced their 10-minute delivery plan on select standardized items.
While it remains to be seen how this new venture plays out, a question comes to mind – aren’t we getting a bit ahead of ourselves?
As it stands
While food delivery companies compete over who can get to the location the fastest by
aiming to reduce time spent on food prep and packaging, there is another aspect to this that is still going unaddressed. One that is not limited to the food servicing industry constitutes a more prominent issue across last- mile delivery systems. And if you’ve ever had one of your online orders go undelivered, with an ‘address not found notification’, then you know the problem we’re talking about.
The reality is that there is no set standardized addressing system to streamline delivery systems. Businesses are still relying on the outdated method of calling the customer 2-3 times to ascertain their location, and frankly, weve had enough of that.
Why is this a problem?
Sure, explaining your address countless times to every delivery partner can be inconvenient . But there is a more significant problem here too. The confusion over the drop- off point deliveries considerably leads to increased costs incurred in transportation. Moreover, packages that are returned to the warehouse due to issues in locating the address also contribute to losses, higher prices and a larger carbon footprint.
Even aside from the business side point, nobody benefits from the current situation, not the consumers, who are caused inconveniences in their purchases, nor the delivery partners, who end up exerting themselves twice as much with no financial reparation.
What are our options?
The Indian e-commerce industry is on an upward trajectory. The number of digital buyers reached 289 million in 2021, a number that is likely to increase to 378 million by 2025.
Projections predict that by 2034, we will surpass the U.S. to become the second-largest e-commerce market in the world. This rapid expansion in digital markets can be attributed to digitization. With the growth of online infrastructure across the country, we’ve reached a stage where every third Indian shop online. And if it’s digitization that has got us here, it is a digital address app that will kickstart the addressing revolution.
The way ahead is clear, businesses need to be proactive in re-evaluating their delivery
strategy and last-mile logistics. The delivery chain needs to be a streamlined process, not just for the consumers benefit but for the delivery partners’ as well. A way to digitize addresses in a simplified and universally understandable address short code is needed – and tech-based solutions are what will tide us over in this sphere. Not only will this ensure fewer conflicts in the delivery stage, but it will also take a significant load off delivery partners and enable them to focus on other aspects of their job.
Only once these changes are implemented will we enter a world where you see your delivery partners face, before you ever hear their voice.
Authored by Rajat Jain, Co-Founder, Pataa