Rajiv Bhattacharya, Sr Vice President, Business Operations, Shohoz Limited

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Supply Chain in e-commerce

From the start, SHOHOZ became a household name by offering bus tickets at the doorstep. Many believe it was a bold step by a startup because the operation is logistically complicated. Do you think it was bold?
Absolutely! It was a very bold step to be the first to digitize the long distance travel industry. This industry was very fragmented and had low penetration of technology. We had to educate all stakeholders in the industry, including the operators and customers. As the pioneers in this industry, it was very challenging but we overcame those hurdles to become the largest online platform for bus & launch tickets. Eventually, we expanded our services to introduce events, movies and concert tickets as well.

Currently, SHOHOZ is the only reliable e-ticketing platform in the country. How crucial do you think was the role of the supply chain in achieving that?
As we were the first to enter this industry, we had to win the trust of the operators as well as the customers. We had to ensure great service and live up to our promise. Supply Chain played a very important role in managing the inventory of tickets and ensuring that the supply-demand gap is minimal. Managing cash-on-delivery was one of our biggest challenges. This was the first challenge we tried to solve, by moving to e-tickets.

How much has the guarantee of home delivery contributed to SHOHOZ’s supremacy?
Delivering tickets to the doorstep has been key to the success of ticket sales. Purchasing bus and launch tickets come with a lot of panics, in terms of waiting for time and availability of tickets. Shohoz proposed a convenient solution to this problem by allowing people to purchase tickets while they were at work or didn’t have the time to stand in a queue. Home delivery also ensures security for the buyers and the majority of the market was COD (Cash On Delivery). Once we had delivered guaranteed service and security, it was easy for us to move towards digital tickets which were more convenient for customers. We are able to integrate our food delivery infrastructure to deliver tickets across Dhaka, and we still have the option of COD. Our food delivery team comprises of over 200 trained riders, which helps us maintain customer satisfaction for timely deliveries.

SHOHOZ is making its presence felt in the food delivery business. Is there a reason behind the increased investment of resources?
Food is a very integral part of everyone’s lives and more so in Bangladesh! With our strength to plan, design and implement projects at a very fast pace we thought this is an avenue for us to take a leadership position. We also had an existing skeleton of a delivery structure on which we expanded. It seemed like the logical step. Research also revealed that there was still a large unmet need in the market.

Our food delivery project was launched in only 3 months! Within 5 months of launching, we are now one of the fastest growing food delivery companies in Bangladesh. We just completed the delivery of our 100,000 order last week. We are now working on including various features in our technology to provide intelligence on food preferences, customer behavior and also guide restaurants on various aspects of menu designing, ingredients balance, load planning, etc. There are many smaller restaurants whom we are also educating on how to benefit from an online platform to increase their business.

What do you think is the biggest obstacle to supply chain management in the food delivery business?
The Riders (delivery person) forms a very important component of the entire value chain for food delivery. Our challenges lie across all the checkpoints: choosing the right person, ensuring they are in uniform, carrying the insulated food bags, riders are well groomed and maintain high hygiene standards. We focus on hygiene so much that we even check the fingernails and shoes of our riders! We call them Shohoz Heros. The other challenge is to keep the right balance between supply and demand. The number of orders is not always predictable and keeping an excess supply of orders impacts the earnings of riders. It’s essential to keep the right mix, through intelligent forecasting models. Using data science and system intelligence to achieve continuous and sustainable growth has been a game changer.

The other challenges are ensuring that the restaurants use the panel for order management, stay connected and mindful to process the order to make good on time. This is key to provide timely delivery. We are in continuous involvement with the restaurants to encourage them to be more compliant to give the customer the best experience.

How are you using technology to make the supply chain more efficient?
Technology is the backbone of our food delivery service: The User App, Rider App, Backend Functional Panel to name a few! Ensuring that these talk to each other seamlessly is very important. What’s also important is big data crunching to find intelligent matching algorithms, best routes for shorter distances and delivery times. Ensuring seamless user experience, smoother navigation, lower battery drainage, and lower data consumption are also very important.

You are a veteran in the logistics industry with experience from all over the world. Have you ever felt that there are obstacles in supply chain management specific to Bangladesh?
Every country has its own challenges as does Bangladesh. One of the major issues is traffic congestion which impacts timely delivery. Supply of trained riders is also a challenge, which we’re trying to mitigate by developing our own resources. As this is still a relatively new business, compliance with smaller restaurant is always a challenge.

Is there a personal target you want to achieve with SHOHOZ?
Become the largest & the most preferred food delivery company by the end of 2019!

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