Welcome to our new series Possible If You Want, powered by Grameenphone, exploring the power and possibilities of the internet. Over the perhaps last 20 years, the internet has reshaped our world. Today, we communicate and connect differently. We shop and consume differently. We build companies and solve problems differently. The internet has penetrated and transformed almost every area of our lives.
This series is about our innate possibilities, the power of the internet, and what happens when we bridge the two. We’ll be interviewing some of the country’s successful technology entrepreneurs and learn about their vision, their take on the power and possibilities of the internet, how they personally and their businesses use technology to tackle some of the pressing problems of our society and much more.
All the stories will be exclusively published in Future Startup and you can find them here.
Over the past years, technology has transformed logistics in Bangladesh and beyond. This transformation of logistics has changed how businesses operate and consumers shop and consume. Today, a growing number of people order online and get their products shipped at their doorsteps. Logistics companies like eCourier are at the heart of enabling this transformation.
In this excellent interview, eCourier Founder and CEO Biplob G Rahul explains how internet has given rise to a new generation of logistics companies enabling both companies and consumers to interact with each other with greater freedom and flexibility, how the internet has transformed our lives and work and enabled individuals to access resources and pursue opportunities that were hard to access before, his work at eCourier, how eCourier has enabled companies and consumers to shop and consume safely amid the pandemic and much more.
eCourier started as a logistics service provider in 2015. It has expanded into related verticals since. It now provides a range of products and services for businesses going online including online channel integration services, inventory management, and analytics along with multi-city fulfillment, express transportation, and reverse logistics.
It currently has a presence in over 60 districts and in excess of 1,000 unions already. It has more than 5,000 direct partners across Bangladesh and is a team of 350+ employees. The company says it has been experiencing more than 100% growth in delivery transactions in recent years.
In 2014, Biplob G Rahul and his company were working on an automation software project for a local logistics company. It was before the current ecommerce boom in the country. It was an interesting project. But not all interesting projects end well. The project fell apart in the middle because that logistics company rendered it unimportant.
Although it was pretty early days, ecommerce was already showing the sign of promise. Biplob and his team noticed the movement in the market. So instead of killing the project, Biplob decided to turn it into a logistics company. eCourier, an ecommerce focused logistics startup, was born. It grew quite fast.
eCourier had its advantages. The market was a green field. Biplob had (still has it) his call center business before eCourier called Soft Call serving ecommerce companies at that time. It made the entry to the market easy. It was selling one more service, a necessary one in that, to the same customers of the logistics business. First two years, eCourier did great serving hundreds of customers.
The market also grew with more ecommerce players entering the market and an increasing number of people shopping online. New logistics companies entered the market to serve a growing ecommerce industry between 2015 and 2016. A rather unwitting competition ensued.
“We became relatively silent in terms of hunting customers aggressively and fighting the price war that started towards the end of 2016,” says Biplob G Rahul. “Instead we focused on building the business, establishing processes in the company and serving our existing customers well. We stayed out of the price war.”
eCourier also made some mistakes during its heydays between 2014 and 2016. These are the mistakes that many fast-growing startups make. Prioritizing revenue over the process. Taking customer service for granted. Faltering in customer experience. “We made some mistakes when handling the responsibilities our customers bestowed upon us. At one point, we were overbooked. We took orders beyond our capacity to deliver.” The result was a lot of disappointed customers.
The new market reality and its own challenges forced eCourier to take a hard look into its own operation and reflect. “We took the entire 2017 to rebuild ourselves,” says Biplob.
During this period, however, eCourier continued its growth journey but largely focused on building its internal organizational strength. It has invested in building a winning culture. In developing processes and systems to ensure better customer service. It has expanded its large item delivery business it calls LPU – increased the number of the delivery van to 12. It has entered into the fulfillment business. Expanded its coverage through franchisee and booking agent model.