There is no doubt that India is one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. Its growth in the 21st century is unparalleled, but even in the face of a major slowdown last year which the country is still recovering from, the logistics sector continues to remain strong. Compared to the United State’s and Western Europe’s 8% gross domestic product (GDP) spend on logistics, India, on the other hand, spends approximately 14% of its GDP on the movement of goods and services across the country. Aside from it being a significant cost, the technology of logistics has become a competitive differentiator, with mobility at the centre of this modernisation which is the key to a more than satisfactory customer experience.
We live in an information age, and every customer expects complete transparency. Whether it’s sending a parcel through India Post, or using an online shopping platform to order essentials, today’s customer wants to be a part of the logistics process. In order to offer this level of service, organisations have found themselves relying heavily on the open-source nature of Android and cloud services to streamline delivery processes across the board from the warehouse to the last mile.
The use of Android in logistics
There are challenges in every industry – and logistics is no different. Trying to integrate technology, regardless of how pertinent, can seem like an insurmountable task. In a recent report by Delloite, some of the biggest challenges faced by the logistics industry are fragmented warehousing and the lack of a seamless movement of goods. This is evident in the order process on platforms such as Flipkart and Amazon, where multiple vendors are stocking goods across multiple locations, hence the guarantee of quick delivery time (48 hours or less) is often difficult. This is especially true in cases where products have to traverse the country by land from the North to the South in order to keep delivery costs low.
While some might see these as barriers that are difficult to overcome, the reality is that they are not impossible. Yes, they are steep, but the solution lies in the everyday technology that we are using on our smartphones, and have come to rely on. We are already well versed and familiar with it, and in terms of an integrated infrastructure platform, Android is at the very core. India has been at the forefront of payments by innovating systems like cash-on-delivery, as well as making strides in the efficiency of last-mile delivery. All that’s left is to strengthen the middle ground.
Forerunners in India’s logistics revolution
For over half a decade now, India has seen a variety of e-commerce startups change the face of the retail and logistics industry. Two of the key players in this have been Flipkart and Amazon, thanks to constant innovation, and continuous development. Key investments have also seen companies like Flipkart envelop other startups such as Myntra and PhonePe, while they themselves have been acquired by french retail giant Walmart. The end result is enhanced customer experience for the end-user.
Amazon’s forte, however, lies in its talent for exponential growth through technology. Amazon has single-handedly revolutionized the Indian e-commerce market by offering the average customer a beyond average experience. Through its own line of Amazon-branded products, the e-tail giant has passed on value to the customer by supplying low-cost household essentials and stationary, and beyond that, certain states enjoy next day delivery on grocery products and a range of other products through their Amazon Pantry and Amazon Prime services directly. Where Amazon Prime is concerned, members can also enjoy multimedia services like music and movies, while choosing to adopt the Amazon integrated IoT services of Alexa through their Echo and Firestick range of products. The integrated nature of the Amazon ecosystem is the perfect example of the power of Android.
How Android is modernising logistics in India
The open-source nature of Android makes it extremely easy to adapt to specific needs. With India leading the global technology race, the use of open-source platforms in the country are increasing daily, and in this case, modernising logistics through artificial intelligence and IoT. It is evident in the success of Amazon and Flipkart, that the intelligent adoption of Android technologies is the source of continuous innovation. These technologies are being used to align workers and processes in order to solve the challenges of asset optimization, supply chain predictability, and last-mile delivery.
Internet of Things
IoT technology has helped to overcome many of the challenges that have plagued the logistics industry. Now technologies such as RFID, geofencing, and efficient use of GPS based on Android are helping to create visibility, and solve industry challenges such as theft and pilferage. According to a report by Mckinsey, almost $45 billion is wasted annually in India’s supply chain due to theft, inventory holding, and cargo pilfering. With clear and transparent technology built into handheld devices such as smartphones and tablets, Android-based systems are able to counter these pitfalls.
What was once a very specific hardware market championed by providers such as Siemens and Motorola, the average smartphone is now a more than suitable replacement for delivery tracking. While there are instances where specialised rugged handheld devices are required, the last-mile delivery is now completely automated thanks to Android applications developed specifically for delivery staff. Since these logistics individuals work on a contract or freelance basis, companies such as Amazon and Flipkart have saved a tremendous amount of money by having delivery personnel install custom logistics tracking software directly on their own smartphones. Basic requirements are confined to just the camera for barcode scanning, touch input for customer signature, GPS for location mapping, and functioning internet connection.
The coalition and integration of data are of utmost importance. Throughout the logistics process, tablets and other handheld devices now employ Android-based applications to scan and collate package data from the warehouse right up until the product reaches the consumer. This is not only relevant to B2C retail services but across the B2B sector and postal services. Data in the form of QR or bar codes are captured constantly and transmitted to cloud-based servers where together with GPS data, a minute by minute log can be created to provide real-time tracking data to all stakeholders.
Android Mobility Trends for the Future
Handheld devices such as smartphones and tablets alone aren’t going to revolutionise the logistics industry in India. Cloud platforms to connect Android devices at every stage of the supply chain are essential to capture data and turn it into actionable data. A centralized cloud platform creates an end-to-end stream of insights into the supply chain. The future looks promising, as long as certain mandates such as the electronic logging device (ELD) mandate passed in the US in 2019 are also enforced in India. If done right, all delivery personnel on the ground will be mandated to carry Android devices on board to send real-time updates to government monitoring authorities.
Other trends include the automation of logistics services through the integration of cloud-based services and the use of Android systems to better utilise cargo routes. While still in a nascent stage, the true potential of Android will be seen once the technology surpasses the consumer level, and is instead used to build enterprise-based software and hardware that is customised for specific industries such as logistics, and deployed through the cloud.