What’s a summer without mangoes.
As we dig into this delightful, golden fruit of joy, our brows relaxed, our lips parted in a smile, we often tend to forget how this king of fruits reaches us. From a branch in a mango orchard to the plate on our table, the journey of a mango is quite a complex process.
From the orchard to the plate: A complex network
The voyage generally begins in the orchard. The cultivation of mangoes is handled by a contractor (who is a separate person than the owner and has nothing to do with the land). The contractor usually pays a lump sum amount to the owner in return for the fruits from his orchard.
These mangoes are then packed in boxes or ‘petis’ and are loaded on vehicles where they are moved to the closest transport depot. Various transporters load these boxes from here and set off for distant markets in the cities.
The journey at this point is often longer than three days, meaning that the recommended temperature for transportation of 13-degree Celsius becomes vital. Many a time, the fruit is also ripened during transporting, which requires completely different temperature conditions. Cost-effective systems that can monitor temperature and raise alarms, become a vital component of such transportation.
Even choosing between several types of materials, designs, and constructions to develop packages that can carry and store perishables with minimal damage and environmental impact is a challenge.
Every morning in these city ‘mandis’, sample boxes are laid so that potential buyers can inspect them. From large scale traders who buy by the truck to the small fruit cart sellers who sell in the city’s neighborhoods, all of them want the best boxes of the yellow fruit. The traders – or commission agents as they were formally known – auction the mangos in their custody, earning their part of the commission.
In theory, these open market auction should increase transparency and guarantee a fair price. However, a lot of deals are negotiated by ‘towel-covered hand gestures,’ ensuring that the trader can increase their commissions while keeping the farmers in the dark about the actual price.
From here, the wholesalers provide the mangoes for the retail businesses, and the customer gets the final fruit. The process of the mango from the orchard to the plate consists of labor, human choices, bureaucracy, and a plethora of complex logistics decisions.
The E-commerce way
In the above passages, we explained the journey of the mango when the customer buys it from a traditional brick and mortar store. But what happens when you buy the fruit online. How do a few clicks of your mouse result in the timely delivery of your favorite mango?
If you have ordered the fruit online, then last-mile deliveries including the delivery boy and his planned routes also become a vital cog in the system. Not only this, but the e-commerce player also has to ensure that the supply is always available, the deliveries are made on time, the cost remains in check, and the overall customer experience is of the highest quality.
Online grocery players usually tie-up with local grocery stores to serve consumers as soon as possible; this is called a hyper-local delivery strategy. They often have a reliable fleet network to deliver products as quickly as possible.
After getting the mangoes from their vendors, it is stored in warehouses (warehouses cater to cities within km range of 250–300) where packing of items is done. Refrigerated vehicles are placed in different regions from where the order is delivered to customers or dark storage is used where mangoes are stored before dispatching to the customers. Dark storage facilities get a direct feed from warehouses.
The diagram below explains the process better:
The online model is not without its own challenges. With the growing needs of the customers, it has become essential to service the customers in the time that has been promised to them. The nature of the product also adds to delivery complexities, especially for the perishable food items like mangoes. The cost of the dissatisfied customer is huge as this has a direct impact on business and revenue loss. With the emergence of several players in the grocery market, the only key distinguisher is customer happiness and high standards in product quality.
The small window between the order and the delivery time also dictates a very short planning time for shipments that is extremely difficult to manage using manual planning processes.
Logistics decisions: The enormity and the solution
But that’s just the story of one mango. What happens if you need to distribute or collect mangoes from all over the country? What about other fruits? What if your business catered to the entire grocery segment?
The complexities in such situations reach humongous proportions. The processes are multiplied, and human decision-making becomes next to impossible.
To empower companies in such circumstances, Locus is working with clients like Bigbasket to ensure that the end customer always receives their orders on-time. Locus’ AI-based Route Optimization solution ensures that companies get efficiency, consistency, and transparency in their supply chain.
Locus ensures that perishables reach the consumers in a fresh state by increasing First Attempt Delivery Rates (FADR). Locus’ Network Optimization, Rider Tracking, and Last-mile Optimization solutions ensure an enhanced consumer experience along with reduced logistics costs.