vLokal: Where Talent Meets Technology to Solve Obstacles in Logistics

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E-commerce logistics is still evolving with different entities handling the customer care and delivery. While the customer interaction is handled by the e-commerce company, the logistics partner only fulfils the last mile delivery or pickup. Most of the e-commerce players incur high expenses to manage this model and retain customers. This is quite a concern for logistics players in the country. Suruchi Anand – Cofounder & CEO and Ajin Abraham – Cofounder of vLokal launched the new platform to integrate partner e-commerce platform into smart IT systems through an API to provide white label customer care and fulfilment. Startup Simba got an opportunity to have a conversation with these young entrepreneurs and this is what they have to say about their endeavor.

Tell us about vLokal and what kind of problem/challenge it is trying to solve?

vLokal enables e-commerce through strategic hubs, integrated customer care and hyper local deliveries. We integrate partner e-commerce platform into our smart IT systems through an API to provide white label customer care and fulfilment. vLokal handles complete life cycle of customer interaction, pickup, drop, cash on delivery etc., for the partners. Our innovative model helps the e-commerce partners to save cost and achieve levels of customer satisfaction and retention.

Tell us about the team/founders behind vLokal? What is their background and experience?

Suruchi Anand – Cofounder & CEO, is an MBA in Finance & Marketing, and has played several roles in multinational financial service company for more than 7 years.

Ajin Abraham – Cofounder

In which year vLokal was launched? What is the idea behind this service?

vLokal launched its operations from Bangalore in October 2015. This idea was conceived by identifying logistics as the high growth sector and by developing unique business model that can give us leadership position in this space. vLokal has a unique combination of founders with varied skills and experience. The team has expertise in the areas of operations, technology and customer care.

What is the current team size? What is the current revenue size? Where are your offices located? Who are your target audience/clients?

vLokal is a strong team of 58 comprising of founders, customer care, operations and delivery executives. We are growing on daily basis by adding e-commerce partners, strategic hubs and delivery team. Our current revenues are quite decent and we expect to be cash positive in the next few months. While our main office is located in East Bangalore, we have 4 strategic hubs covering entire Bangalore. We align our operations with the business of our e-commerce partners, to serve consumers across Bangalore in a short time

The Indian logistics business is highly unorganized. What kind of unique role vLokal is going to play to streamline and organize it?

E-commerce logistics is still evolving with different entities handling the customer care and delivery. While the customer interaction is handled by the e-commerce company, the logistics partner only fulfils the last mile delivery or pickup. This fragmented approach hardly achieves SLAs of 60% to 80%, leading to lower customer satisfaction and retention. Most of the e-commerce players incur high expenses to manage this model and retain customers.

Our unique model of strategic hubs, customer care and hyper local delivery is helping our partners to achieve SLAs of over 99 percent, which is way ahead of industry average. This is not only efficient, but also saves considerable cost and investment of e-commerce partners. Our proven model is highly scalable and we have done over 10,000 deliveries within first 3 months of our launch in Bangalore. Leading e-commerce companies like Doormint, Housejoy, Zo Rooms, Thindipotha Food chain etc., are our trusted partners reaping benefits from our model.

What is your revenue model?

We have a simplified revenue model of charging e-commerce partners per delivery. We are working on few more revenue streams that would help our partners to retain customers and upsell their services.

How has been the journey so far? How tough has been the competition?

We have achieved considerable success in a short span of time. We did 10,000 deliveries within 3 months of launch and acquired some of the leading e-commerce players as our partners. We also got the angel funding to scale our operations. All this proves the strength of our team and unique value we add to our partners. The competition is mainly on the charging front, once we present our model and trial it for few weeks, e-commerce partners get fully convinced with the value it adds to their business and its scalability.

Did you receive any seed funding or raise money? Are you considering any such things?

We have raised funding from Angel Investor Pavan Kumar who has invested in successful startups like NewsBytes, PindropMusic, iLenze, Brewz&Greenz etc.. In addition to funding, we gain through his mentoring and guidance to scale the business. The funding has helped us to expand our strategic hubs in Bangalore and become pan Bangalore player. We are also adding resources in IT, operations and delivery.

What is your plan or strategy to sustain in the long run?

The success of our business model is helping us to draw ambitious plans to grow across India. We are targeting other tier-1 and tier-2 cities in the next few quarters.

We are also signing up new e-commerce partners and intend to reach over 300 by the end of the year. Based on data analytics and consumer presence, we will add more strategic hubs during the year. Our aim is to be cross 10,000 fulfilments per day in 2016. On the technology front, we will soon introduce data analytics and upselling platform to our partners.

What are your marketing strategies to promote your company? What kind of branding activities you are doing?

Most of our marketing activities are driven by the founders and we are quite selective in choosing our partners. Though there are numerous opportunities for delivery, we look for partners who see value in our integrated model. All the founders make personal contacts with the e-commerce companies, present the model and build long-term strategic relationships. Being a white label service provider, we strive to grow the business of our partners to build our brand. Lot of consumers recognize vLokal as a consistent and reliable player in this space.

Are you using any niche technology to solve technical problems, increase overall efficiency, customer engagement, boost sales etc.?

Our unique technology solution efficiently handles day-to-day operation and helps to improve our transporters efficiency in great extent. Our API enables partners to have a real time feedback and customer engagement. Our customer care support is highly tech oriented and helps to resolve issue at great extent.

What are your immediate plans to expand and grow? Are you looking for partners, investors to promote your startup?

Our immediate plans are to acquire more e-commerce partners, open additional strategic hubs and increase our field force. We are constantly acquiring e-commerce players and expanding our business. We plan to promote our model in startup events and are actively looking for Series-A investment.

Did you receive any kinds of awards or recognition so far? What has been your greatest achievement?

The biggest achievement in the first 6 months of our existing is in retaining all the partners who believe in our unique model. Some of our partners have removed their inhouse Customer care and few others have expanded to new areas by fully relying on our logistic support. Partner appreciation is our greatest reward and achievement in a short span of time.

Where do you want to see vLokal 2 years from now?

We see vLokal expanding to more tier-1 cities, having numerous e-commerce partners, opening strategic hubs and enabling e-commerce. We want to become the growth engine for the e-commerce players by providing reliable and consistent ‘customer care, strategic hubs and hyper local delivery’ solutions.  We want to see our model grow and enable us to achieve over 50,000 deliveries per day.

What do you want to say about Startup Simba, being the first of its kind video blogging platform for startups?

It is a good concept and an efficient platform for startups. Today, the biggest challenge of startups is to gain visibility and recognition. With limited financial resources, many startups that are bootstrapped fail to achieve their objectives due to lack of publicity and market awareness. Startup Simba, can fill the gap and become the platform to showcase the startups and their unique propositions.

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Anirban Guha
Founder & Editor
Startup Simba
Anirban Guha
Anirban Guha
Founder & Editor Startup Simba
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