It is a great time for e-commerce! Indeed an opportune time for technological innovations! The community of online buyers and sellers is growing dramatically. And who is surfing on the crest of this huge wave? None other than our once-familiar India Post. The journey from the mail runners to e-commerce has indeed become an exciting one.
India Post has 1.55 lakh post offices and 1.39 lakh in rural areas and is one of the partners for e-commerce customers as they have a deep reach. The network has registered a seven-fold growth since independence, with the focus of this expansion predominantly in rural areas.
“At the moment, we are doing delivery of parcels for more than 100 e-commerce customers with four major players being Amazon, Myntra, Naaptol, Flipkart and Snapdeal,” says K.Balasubramanian, deputy director general-Technology, India Post.
Since, e-commerce is time bound, Balasubramanian says India Post is specifically meeting the requirements of e-commerce players by offering same-day delivery at Bangalore, Mumbai and Hyderabad. E-commerce companies want delivery information on a time bound basis. “For example, for Amazon we are giving that information right from taking their data till the final delivery confirmation reaches them,” says Balasubramanian.
According to a Goldman Sachs report, the Indian e-commerce market is expected to grow to $300 billion by 2030.
India Post has more than 100 customers, but technological integration has taken place with Amazon, Flipkart and Myntra and currently in the process of integrating with Naaptol and Shopclues.
The Game Plan: Technological integration
“We have the technology to integrate with e-commerce customers. We have developed an inhouse software called Speed Net, which provides end to end tracking. This software gives visibility to the e-commerce players,” says Balasubramanian.
Consider this scenario: Someone places an order on Amazon, the XML data with consignment details from Amazon gets pushed to the CEPT server in Mysore which in turn directs it to the appropriate booking locations. Thus, booking will be complete from respective warehouse locations.
E-commerce players tweak their software and accommodate India Post’s data requirements. “When Amazon delivers 100 consignments to India Post office, they give us an electronic manifest which includes XML details like article number, name, address in a row. This data flows automatically from their system to our system. This is called integration,” says Balasubramanian.
In addition, articles have to be delivered to various places in our country and there are different check points when the parcel is in transit. “All these events are captured and data flows automatically to Amazon through our tracking system i.e. Speed Net. This shows Amazon the status of the parcels instantly in their own system,” says Bala.
Speed Net is also used to internally find the percentage of mails being delivered and identify bottlenecks. “We use the data, analyze it and if required, escalate it to the appropriate management level.”
Right now, “we are not providing analytics service to e-commerce players. We give data in real time, in whatever interval they prescribe. Updating the data base and analysis will be done by e-commerce customer,” said Bala.
At the moment, India Post has e-commerce centers in Bangalore, Mumbai, Delhi and Chennai. There are plans to introduce e-commerce centers in small cities too.
Talking on safety of articles, Balasubramanian, says that India post is augmenting the facility of secure areas of parcels with access control and CCTV.
Plans in the Pipeline
“We have 1.35 lakh postmen in the country. Our target is to provide 15000 postmen with small handheld devices as they lead to greater efficiency in operations. It records the delivery data of the parcel, the signature of the receiver regardless of it being a speed post, letter mail, e-commerce parcel. They immediately upload the data and it goes back immediately to the server,” says Balasubramanian.
At the same time, softwares are being created for real time delivery data updation, money remittance systems for Cash on Delivery (COD)/electronic generation and settlement of bills and interface with tracking systems of railways and airlines for discernibility.
As a part of IT modernization initiative, India post has set up primary datacenter in Mumbai and a disaster recovery center in Mysore. Also, in days to come, all the India Post vans will be fitted with GPS so that the fleet manager is able to track the movement of vehicles.
“We book e-parcel shipments (COD) in the range of 5,00,000 pieces per annum. This was started in 2013. On an average, India post has delivered an average of 1500 orders daily in Bangalore.
All said and done, this technology smart India Post is promising a dynamic, easy and a seamless journey for its consumers in order to capture a greater wallet share.