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“We’re shouldering the responsibility of being Trade Facilitators to the nation”

Shrugging off the disruptions of last year, businesses and agencies are looking for a strong revival in 2021. Adgully – as part of our annual TRENDING NOW endeavour – has been presenting the strategies and views of a cross-section of industry leaders as they go about reclaiming lost time and market opportunities and build for a stronger future, armed with the lessons of 2020.

In conversation with Adgully, Ketan Kulkarni, CMO, and Head – Business Development, Blue Dart, speaks about how logistics been the backbone of the economy during the pandemic period, contactless delivery in the new normal, 5G tech enabling efficient supply chain management and much more.

Outlook for 2021

The pandemic has in a literal sense turned the world upside down. The global economy, businesses, industries, sectors and individuals have different devastating pandemic experiences. Unlike the start of 2020, where we were not aware of the magnitude of the COVID-19 virus, we welcomed 2021 with an affirmation that the vaccine will put a FULLSTOP to the pandemic massacre.

Since then we have adjusted and adapted to several changes that constitute the New Normal, and the reality is that these changes are here to stay.

Supply Chain Reliability, Responsiveness and Resilience

Logistics is the backbone that fuels the growth of any economy. While this sector is never in the spotlight, the subsequent lockdowns highlighted the powerful role it plays. In times of a crisis, customers connect with brands that are reliable, responsive and resilient. During the initial days of the pandemic while the country was trying to cope with a lockdown, Blue Dart got back to its virtual war room and deployed the use of its market differentiator Boeing 757-200 freighters to ensure the supply chain was not disrupted.

Contactless Delivery the New Normal

Homes are our safe bubble, where families need to be confined; this will not only help them stay safe but also break the chain. Blue Dart pioneered Contactless Delivery to the customer’s doorstep for receiving essential and non-essential shipments from across the country. The pandemic has created a physiological fear of getting exposed to any social contact, which is why Contactless Delivery is highly recommended to ensuresafety not only of the customer but also of the company’s employee.

New Wave of Online Shoppers

Since the Great Recession in 2008, people have understood that one needs to adapt to technology. Way back being averse to technology and lack of computer knowledge cost many people their jobs. Today, technology is in the palm of your hands and is a way of modern-day living. While for some, especially the urban working segment, online shopping was always a solution to their lifestyle, but for many offline retail was always a preference. Today, brands need to communicate with this new wave of online shoppers that form a larger chunk of potential business revenue.

5G Tech-enabled Supply Chain

5G will increase supply chain efficiencies and the ability to connect up to 1 million devices. Supply chains are driven by data, and the faster your data, the more efficient your planning processes can be for complex operations such as cross-border deliveries.

The logistics and supply chain industry is also embracing tech-powered tools that enhance route mapping, scale deliveries, boost productivity, and shrink the turnaround time to create a smart way for building efficient and robust operations. 2021 will also see advancements in autonomous warehouses, drone delivery and significant use of robotics.

Sustaining appeal Sustainability

Brands understand the importance of the inclusion of sustainability in business like never before. Climate change is real and we are experiencing the impact in different forms. Customers understand the need and are in search of Green products that can help them pledge their support to the environment. Blue Dart was the first to introduce end to end GOGREEN Carbon Neutral Service across international and domestic markets. We also use electric vehicles and have introduced many initiatives to reduce carbon emissions.

Great Expectations

Just like in 2020, I expect there to be a spotlight on the logistics sector, once again, given that we are shouldering a significant responsibility of being Trade Facilitators to the nation. From vaccines to groceries to consumer durables, the importance of the logistics sector has just come to the forefront and I believe the importance of the sector, which has been an underlying theme up until now, will only be propelled further.

I believe that a significant portion of 2021 will still require efforts to reel out of the pandemic and therefore, Blue Dart’s efforts to stand strong by the Government and our customers remains unwavering. Digitisation will continue to play a huge role in the way brands operate as well as in the way brands market themselves and Blue Dart will continue to leverage this in 2021 to help our customers receive exceptional service quality.

Key learnings from 2020

2020 was a year of learning to adapt. Organisations able to rise to the occasion remained resilient and some even thrived in a VUCA environment, however, sadly many SMEs, MSMEs as well as large organisations were affected.

Blue Dart’s learnings were three-fold and revolved around digitisation, our people as well as our customers. The pandemic was a period of crisis and as I have mentioned before, digitisation played a large role in facilitating our services to our customers without them having to fear to send or receive a shipment.

During this period of crisis, our people went above and beyond to deliver excellence, at every single touchpoint. Blue Dart never stopped working, our shutters never closed and our lights remain switched on through the duration of a very volatile period, and they continue to do so, now.

Our learnings from a customer point of view were to primarily be an honest brand and communicate with clarity what they can expect from us. Keeping this line of communication open helped us build a very strong relationship with our customers, even during a rather challenging period.

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