“AI, Big Data Analytics Help Perform Various Real-World Last-Mile Logistics Functions” Says Nishith Rastogi

“AI, Big Data Analytics Help Perform Various Real-World Last-Mile Logistics Functions” Says Nishith Rastogi

Retail supply chain management essentially depends on accurate delivery schedules. Businesses cannot afford to delay or misdeliver even for a single instance, as it would cause operational disturbances, customer dissatisfaction, and revenue loss. Optimizing operations takes precedence when it comes to ensuring safer delivery at reasonable prices. Locus, an end-to-end logistics company, leveraging emerging technologies such as IoT, AI, and Big Data Analytics, has achieved a unique milestone in ensuring last-mile delivery.  Analytics Insight has engaged in an exclusive interview with Nishith Rastogi, Founder, and CEO, of Locus.

1.Kindly brief us about the company, its specialization, and the services that your company offers.

Locus is a leading-edge technology company whose mission is to enable last-mile excellence for enterprises worldwide. Its real-world ready-to-dispatch management platform leverages advanced algorithms to optimize key last-mile logistics functions such as order allocation, route planning, order management, carrier management, and tracking and tracing drivers at scale.

Right from order capture to delivery, it automates these operations and analyzes vast sources of data to uncover hidden efficiencies. This empowers workers to make more deliveries, reduce empty miles, ensure optimal fuel usage, improve service level agreements (SLAs), and makes for sustainable growth with fewer emissions. The platform provides end-to-end visibility over the order fulfillment cycle. These capabilities fast-track the speed and quality of decision-making, which empowers businesses to meet and exceed rising consumer expectations at scale, and differentiate their brand in a highly competitive marketplace.

2.With what mission and objectives, the company was set up? In short, tell us about your journey since the inception of the company.

Locus was founded in 2015 by Nishith Rastogi and Geet Garg, who were colleagues at Amazon. They cofounded RideSafe – an application that detected route deviation for women's safety. On seeing how the app was used to track the progress of drivers making deliveries, they saw its immense scope to bring value to the last-mile logistics space with technology solutions.

In today's e-commerce-first world, last-mile logistics account for more than 50% of all shipping costs, largely due to rising fuel costs, imprecise addresses, increasing urban congestion, returns, and redeliveries. Locus was founded in this context to empower enterprises to convert the last mile from a cost center to a revenue generator by making every delivery more efficient than the last, empowering workers to do more, bring sustainability to operations, uncover deep inefficiencies and power delivery experiences that keep their end-consumers coming back for more.

Today, Locus brings real-world decision-making capabilities to dispatch managers by accounting for over 180 constraints including route restrictions, hours of service, cost, choice and availability of carriers, and more. The platform has been successfully deployed across 30+ countries in six continents including North America, Europe, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, ANZ, and the Indian subcontinent.

3.Mention some of the awards, achievements, recognitions, and clients' feedback that you feel are notable and valuable for the company.

  • Over the years, Locus has been awarded various accolades that recognize its commitment to innovation and last-mile excellence. Some of these include:

    Food Logistics Award – 2021 – Top Green Provider

  • Gold Stevie Winner – 2021- Most Innovative Tech Company of the year- Up 2500 employees
  • NASSCOM AI Gamechangers – Innovator 2021 – Transport and Logistics award category
  • Tracxn Emerging awards – Top logistics tech minicorn-Feb 2020
  • SuperStartUps Asia 2019 Silver Award
  • NASSCOM AI Game Changer Award, for Innovative application of AI, 2018
  • 42Next by Inc42 – List of India's most innovative startups, 2018
  • 'Young Turks: 10 Startups to watch out for in 2018!' list – CNBC
  • BW Business World Achiever of the Year 2017 – BW Disrupt
  • Winner -Aegis Graham Bell Awards 2017 in the Data Science category

We've also been fortunate enough to work with leading enterprises across the globe and help deliver on their growth expectations. Few of them have been generous enough to leave their valuable feedback on our website.

4.Brief us about the proactive Founders/CEO of the company and his contributions to the company and the industry.

Nishith Rastogi, Chief Executive Officer at Locus, drives business strategy and innovation at the company. He is responsible for business expansion across geographies and heads product growth and development globally. Prior to founding Locus, he worked for Amazon, where he built algorithms to counter credit card fraud. Nishith also co-founded RideSafe, a real-time route deviation detection application for women's safety. He is a published author in experimental physics and holds patents in Machine Learning. Nishith has a Bachelor's degree in Electronics and a Master's in Economics from BITS Pilani and was profiled by Fortune India for its 2022 '40 under 40' list and by Forbes Asia in the 2018 '30 Under 30' list.

Geet Garg is Chief Technology Officer for Locus and is responsible for all technology decision-making at the company.  Apart from co-founding RideSafe, he also worked for Amazon as a software development engineer and was part of the team that built the AWS Machine Learning experience. He also designed and built scalable web services for fraud and risk evaluations.

Geet has a Bachelor's and Master's degree in computer science engineering from IIT-Kharagpur. The founders' commitment to excellence and innovation in last-mile logistics is reflected in the number of patents. As of date, Locus has been successfully granted 4 patents and filed 8 patents that are pending approval. The company has helped with a 15% increase in orders per driver and a 10% increase in vehicle utilization.

5.Tell us how your company is contributing to the IoT/AI/Big Data Analytics/Robotics/Self-Driving Vehicles/Cloud Computing industry of the nation and how the company is benefiting the clients.

Locus' Dispatch Management Platform utilizes leading-edge technology such as IoT, AI, and Big Data Analytics to perform various real-world last-mile logistics functions. Each of these technologies plays a role in our business in the following manner:

  • IoT provides the necessary real-time data and updates from drivers to the platform and vice versa. It is the foundation for its Route Planning, Driver Companion App, its advanced analytics capabilities, and the tracking and tracing of drivers in real time.
  • AI plays a crucial role in creating optimal routes, whereas Big Data Analytics has helped unearth deep inefficiencies in last-mile operations.
  • Cloud computing provides the necessary computing power and bandwidth to help enterprises across the globe attain last-mile excellence, and scale up when the demand arises.

As a result, Locus has helped its customers execute more than 650 million deliveries across 400 cities, saving more than 43 million miles, $200 million in logistics costs, and 18 million tons in greenhouse gas emissions.

6.Kindly share your point of view on the current scenario of Big Data Analytics and its future.

In our opinion, Big Data Analytics continues to gain traction alongside the growth of the logistics and supply chain industry. The challenges in the last two years posed by events such as the coronavirus pandemic have highlighted the need for greater resilience among supply chains. The increased adoption of e-commerce solutions and trends such as quick commerce have heightened consumer expectations around delivery times and the overall consumer experience. When it comes to the last mile, increasing levels of congestion, particularly in inner urban areas, will make achieving on-time deliveries a more challenging task. Manual processes alone are not enough to meet these demands. As a result, there is a growing trend of digitalization of logistics operations, with enterprise-level businesses taking the lead. The growth of the logistics and supply chain industry will continue to be underpinned by the value and insights delivered by solutions powered by Big Data Analytics.

We believe that businesses of the future will enforce data-driven decision-making as a fundamental part of their operations, and not in an experimental or exploratory way. As technology and 'data literacy' continues to improve, more and more repetitive tasks and regular decisions will be automated for optimization. This will free up team members to focus on challenges related to innovation and true value addition, as opposed to mere task completion. As technology's capabilities reach the level of real-time data processing, applications will continue to create highly efficient workflows and provide a differentiated customer experience.

7.Kindly mention some of the major challenges the company has faced till now.

On the technical front, two of our greatest challenges were in building our Geocoding and Route Optimization engines. Poorly located addresses caused drivers immense hurdles while making deliveries, leading to more fuel spent and delays. Team Locus built a Geocoding engine that converts every address into accurate latitudes and longitudes that clear ambiguity around each address. Initially, gleaning the information from these poorly-worded addresses was a challenge. However, the engine's geocoding capabilities were refined to deliver 98.1% accuracy within a 500 m range.

Similarly, route optimization is a classic problem tackled at length only in academia. Locus' team of dedicated and highly skilled Engineers and Data Scientists managed to create a Route Optimization Engine with real-world distance matrices and the ability to factor in hundreds of constraints, bringing tangible results around distance traveled, reduced costs, and fuel saved.

8.What is your biggest USP that differentiates the company from competitors?

Decision-making and not just visibility and an intuitive user experience are at the core of Locus' dispatch management platform. Advanced artificial intelligence and machine learning systems architected by our data scientists are the foundation of the entire Locus product suite. As Locus powers increasingly complex supply chains, dispatchers rely on Locus's AI to compute trillions of combinations to quickly seek out the ideal sequence by which every order can be fulfilled with the least resources spent. Our machine learning algorithm continually observes these decisions made by the AI. It evaluates how they play out in the real world, improving each on-ground execution, and resulting in continuously improving performance.

The client interface of the platform is designed to help digitize and automate all aspects of the last-mile fulfillment process from end to end, including the experience that the end consumer receives. Role-based access allows for a high degree of security of data and consumer information. Security and privacy are a top priority with the platform –  It is GDPR compliant across 27 countries, HOS ready, and equipped with ISO-certified security measures and role-based access control for operational integrity.

From the ground up, Locus was built with provisions to grow rapidly. Our entire product suite can be accessed through APIs without requiring manual intervention. This interoperability has proved indispensable to large enterprises, making integrations with their existing CRM, ERP, WMS, OMS, and other systems a quick and painless task. Our platform-based ecosystem allows businesses to activate individual solutions as and when needed, which drastically improves deployment times, change management, and the ease of onboarding.

What are the most important trends that you see emerging across the globe?

Two key trends that we see emerging across the globe concerning the last-mile logistics space are:

  • A movement towards quicker deliveries: Customers in urban regions increasingly demand quicker deliveries: between 10 min to 90 min. The penetration of such deliveries is expected to surpass 20% of the last-mile deliveries in the coming years. India is currently leading in the adoption of quick delivery. To expedite deliveries at such a scale, urban warehousing infrastructure is being increasingly utilized and developed. Grocery and consumables are the verticals that have witnessed the highest penetration within quick commerce. While this is happening, the home services segment with verticals such as electronics, and healthcare at home are gaining traction.
  • Electrification of fleets: Addressing sustainability and decarbonization concerns, electrification of fleets is seen as the most effective way of countering CO2 emissions in deliveries

10.Please brief us about the products/services/solutions you provide to your customers and how they get value out of it.

The Locus platform spans order, carrier, contract, dispatch, and driver management, providing enterprises with a rich ecosystem for all their needs under a single roof while also being modular to cater to more specific gaps that need to be solved, alongside existing business systems.

The Route Planning module takes into account 180+ real-world constraints such as the size of the vehicle, fuel consumption, service level agreements, and road restrictions to find optimal routes that maximize on-time deliveries while minimizing fuel consumption. Our modules, including the Fireworks routing algorithm that Locus has built over the years, have multiple patents.

Our very real-world interface, based on our extensive experience with our 200+ implementations, is highly personalized and configurable to meet the diverse use cases and requirements of different industries and geographies. For example, the road infrastructure, rules, and compliance norms across 30+ countries right from the USA to India to Indonesia and Japan are factored into the platform. This makes for quick deployment of a platform already rich with global-local customizations for Locus' clients. One of the most advanced analytics platforms powered by AI and ML allows for intuitive dashboards to meet both operational needs and aid in strategic planning. All hygiene features on alerts and notifications can also be automated to pre-empt delays at any stage of the fulfillment process.

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