INNOVATION AMIDST CONGESTION: Future of Urban Logistics in India

In the heart of a bustling metropolis, urban logistics stands at the crossroads of necessity and innovation. With a burgeoning population, a flourishing e-commerce sector, and a diverse network of astir cities, the country faces unique challenges in the efficient movement of goods within urban environments. The congested streets, diverse infrastructure, and varying regional complexities demand tailored solutions, and urban logistics in India is witnessing a transformative shift with the integration of technology and the adoption of electric vehicles to mitigate environmental concerns. This month, the cover story delves into the dynamic realm of urban logistics, where innovation and technology converge to pave the way for a smarter, more sustainable, and seamlessly connected urban future.

India stands at the threshold of becoming the globe’s most populous nation, with projections indicating that its urban population will approximate 675 million by the year 2030. On top of this, the Indian e-commerce industry is forecast to quadruple by 2027, with online retailers already serving ~20,000 out of the nearly 100,000 pin codes in the country.

 This rapid growth has pushed the traditional logistics systems to their limits, forcing the evolution of the logistics industry, particularly in urban areas, where consumers now demand same-day, nextday, and even 15-minute deliveries.

This rise is expected to further the demand for faster and more efficient delivery services, encouraging engagement throughout the day and building on the pressure to deliver to impenetrable locations to meet consumer needs.

 Driven by factors including rapid urbanization, growing e-commerce, and changing consumer behavior, urban logistics is crucial for ensuring timely and efficient delivery while optimizing resource utilization. This field addresses the unique challenges posed by dense populations, heavy traffic, and limited space, with the primary goal of ensuring timely and environmentally sustainable deliveries while enhancing urban life quality.

This multifaceted system includes components like:

• Efficient transportation networks encompassing various modes,

• Vital warehousing and distribution centers strategically located for quick urban distribution,

• Effective inventory management using control systems and real-time monitoring,

• Last-mile delivery solutions addressing challenges with route optimization and tracking technologies,

• Information systems and technology enhancing visibility and decision-making,

 • Reverse logistics managing returns and recycling processes, and

• Collaboration among stakeholders for efficient coordination and sustainable solutions.

URBAN LOGISTICS: CHALLENGES OF DELIVERING TO THE DENSER POPULATION

The current status of urban logistics in India reflects a period of significant revamping driven by the rise of e-commerce, changing consumer behavior, and the increasing demand for faster and more efficient delivery services. Despite the significant evolution and growth of urban fulfillment centers, the future of urban logistics in India is full of challenges.

Dr. Karuna Shankar Pande (Director – Last Mile Operations, Amazon India), “Micro Hubs and Urban Consolidation Centres (UCCs) are gaining traction due to their potential to address challenges in urban logistics by providing efficient solutions that optimize last-mile delivery processes. Amazon over the years has strategically located both Amazon-owned and partneroperated delivery stations, including I Have Space (IHS) stores, which are situated near customers enhancing delivery speed through close proximity, solving issues with regards to speed and reliability.”

Mani Bhushan (Chief Business Officer, Ekart) says, “In the foreseeable future, the substantial growth prospects in India’s direct-to-consumer (D2C) market, forecasted to potentially reach US$ 35 billion by 2027 as per a Redseer report, present a thrilling prospect. We believe that with dynamic services and harnessing innovative solutions, the 4PL and 3PL supply chain providers hold the promise of augmenting the overall sustainability and effectiveness of urban logistics operations.”

Rakesh Singh (Senior Operation Specialist – India (Supply Chain), FedEx) says, “Autonomous vehicles will be taking over the world of last-mile delivery in India. With advanced technology such as sensors, cameras, and AI, these vehicles will reshape the way goods are transported to our doorsteps. From self-driving vans to smaller robots, the options are endless. By reducing the need for human drivers, autonomous vehicles offer significant cost savings to logistics companies.”

Vikram Mansukhani (National Operations Head, BlueDart) said, “Congestion, limited space, and complexities in last-mile delivery are among the primary hurdles faced by businesses operating in urban environments. Navigating narrow streets and high-rise complexes poses significant challenges for efficient delivery operations, exacerbating issues such as traffic congestion and environmental pollution.”

Sameer Shamsudeen (General Manager, Telenity India) “Densely populated urban areas may have higher rates of theft and vandalism, posing security concerns for logistics operations. Ensuring the safety and security of goods during transportation and storage becomes a priority, requiring companies to implement additional security measures and protocols.”

Collaborative platforms will also help address the challenge of last-mile delivery in urban areas. “Though at a very inception stage, collaborative platforms can revolutionize urban logistics by upping resource utilization many notches up, whether vehicle, warehouse or delivery person utilization,” shares Sanjeev Choudhary (CEO – sKart Global Express)

Emerging as a technology that is reshaping urban logistics and offering solutions to the challenges faced in densely populated areas, blockchain offers secure and transparent tracking of goods throughout the supply chain, reducing the risk of fraud and theft. By providing a tamper-proof record of transactions, blockchain can improve the reliability and security of urban logistics operations, Ajit Jangle (Managing Director,FM Logistic India)

Abhinav Vadrevu (Vice President – Two Wheeler, Porter) says, “The urban logistics landscape in India has undergone significant transformation propelled by the rapid expansion of e-commerce, growing urbanization, and technological advancements. Despite its burgeoning growth trajectory, the sector grapples with various challenges, including inadequate availability, lack of standardization, and asset underutilization via idle runs.”

While consumer demands are evolving at a breakneck pace, the need for digitization and technology adoption is making urban logistics complex. The logistics ecosystem is fragmented, and the lack of visibility over logistical movements, demand aggregation, and manual route planning further adds to these complexities,” said Ratnesh Verma (Founder and CEO, Pidge).

“Ensuring on-time deliveries, package tracking, and lowering delivery costs have become important aspects of doorstep deliveries in the e-commerce space. Powerful electric threewheelers with advanced and smart features have been able to solve these challenges, thereby ensuring cost-effectiveness and optimizing fleet operations in urban settings,” said Saurav Kumar (Founder and CEO, Euler Motors).


This is an abridged version of the Cover Story published in the March edition of the Logistics Insider Magazine. To read the complete story, click here.

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