Could you tell us what drives you to start your own company?
The potential of e-commerce is huge. In Singapore, the e-commerce market is expected to be worth US$5.4 billion by 2025, based on estimates by Temasek and Google.
I noticed a glaring inertia in the way orders were delivered in Singapore. It often took days, or even weeks, before items arrive. Apart from the wait, there were many complaints about delivery delays and missed deliveries.
Seeing this as an anachronistic problem in a digital age, I founded blu to re-imagine the future of retail logistics. While logistics players were making piecemeal tweaks, I focused on systemic innovation throughout the value chain to achieve greater efficiency, across warehousing and inventory management, order fulfilment, and last-mile delivery.
How does your usual day at work look like?
I would say there is no “usual” day. As the CEO, I set the direction for the company, make strategic business decisions, and manage overall operations and resources.
What one trend in the industry has your attention and excited and why?
The record US$30 billion spent during last year’s Singles Day really puts perspective on the size and scale of e-commerce and the potential that’s still yet to be tapped in this industry. Accordingly, related services and infrastructure would need to aggressively keep up to offer the consumer experience that retailers are looking to provide. Logistics-focused online retail is small but growing rapidly, and this provides a lot of opportunities to transform and rethink the way consumers interact with brands and retailers. A tech-enabled logistics model underpins the future of how people will consume.
How has the industry changed since you got first involved in it?
Traditional logistics was highly fragmented and inefficient, owing to the need for administration and coordination with multiple partners throughout the supply chain and reliance on labour-intensive processes. As digitisation took place and consumer expectations evolved, retailers struggled to keep up with customers’ need for immediacy, flexibility, and transparency. Retailers started to recognise the importance of having a strong logistics partner to leverage the rise of eCommerce to grow their business.
New entrants have disrupted the logistics landscape with their technological breakthroughs, enabling integration across the value chain and automation of previously-laborious workflows.
In the past three years, blu has been investing heavily in technologies to increase our retail logistics capabilities. Upstream, we have been optimising storage and retrieval processes through robotics and AI, carrying out order fulfilment quickly and accurately. Integrated with last-mile, blu improves customer experience through enabling flexible self-collection and return options at our fully-automated parcel lockers known as bluPort. At all times, blu’s integrated system is aware of the location, quantity, availability, accessibility, and condition of every item.
We expect the emergence of new technology, such as blockchain, drones, and IoT will further transform the logistics landscape in time to come. Few years ago, it was acceptable that parcels would arrive a week after placing the order online. Today, ETAs are the game changer for e-commerce companies. Products are so commoditiseed that buyers are ready to pay extra to get faster deliveries. Previously, customers booked shipments, received an estimated delivery date and then were left in the dark, unless they decided to make a phone call. Today, with the help of AI based technology, customers can track the real-time location of their products, schedule deliveries as per their availability and benefit from easy return policies. You can’t complain when we can do all of this by just a few clicks from the comfort of our couches.
What do you think is the biggest challenge in your industry?
The industry is incredibly huge, and as a result, incredibly fragmented. The biggest challenge will be for different industry players to collaborate together in order to stay relevant in the fiercely-competitive retail logistics space and keep up with consumer expectations.
Can you tell us a bit more of what products or services & what can attendees expect to see in your booth?
We will have a real-life demonstration of drop-off/collection at bluPort, our automated parcel terminal. We operate one of the largest parcel terminal networks in Singapore, consisting of more than 100 locations. Our bluPort network is integrated with our upstream processes, where storing, picking, and packing are also automated.
Our parcel terminals are fully-automated touchpoints where consumers can collect and return parcels. Essentially, consumers are put in control – they can collect their parcels on-the-go, at their convenience. Through bluPort, customers can enjoy the flexibility, security, and assurance that comes with the knowledge of where their parcel is at any point in time.
Which of the 6 conference tracks in Home Delivery Asia are you most interested with and why?
There is a lot of scope for the digitization and automation of the entire supply chain in Singapore and the rest of the region and I am looking forward to engaging with like-minded companies in the Supply Chain track.
What are you most looking forward to at Home Delivery Asia?
Meeting with like-minded individuals to discuss the newest technologies and innovations in retail logistics and sharing with retailers on how blu can support and enhance their supply chain.
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blu World is a proud associate sponsor of Home Delivery Asia. Join us on the 24-25th September 2019 to meet blu at booth no D07 and more technology exhibitors. Find out more here.