How technology is making last-mile delivery easier for Sri Lankan SMEs

Tuesday, 9 February 2021 01:16 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


Oshella Homemade Goodness Director Pamela De Alwis


For many businesses, managing the logistics of delivering products to their customers is challenging. It’s a costly and time consuming process that requires constant attention. Despite the convenience for customers, for many SMEs the complexities of the last-mile delivery has kept it out of reach. 

This was further compounded by the lockdowns during the period from March to May 2020. Businesses were faced with the challenge of providing their workers with the facilities to work from home. Increasingly, many have turned to technology for a solution as ride-hailing apps enter the logistics industry. 

During the lockdown period in Sri Lanka, small businesses and large corporates alike used PickMe Flash to deliver over 8,200 packages during this period. These included business-critical items such as routers and SIM cards, and also everyday packages such as books, cookies, and even pet fish. 

Recently, the service completed 100,000 successful deliveries. A regular user since then of utilising the digital logistics solution is Oshella Homemade Goodness. Oshella Homemade Goodness is one of Colombo’s home-cooks famous for their eclairs. Their unique selling point is homemade quality – none of their products is off the shelf. Ingredients are either bought locally or imported, giving their products that touch of homeliness. 

Since its inception, the establishment has grown to now offer a variety of desserts, savouries, and meals. “There was a huge boost in business during the first three months of lockdown earlier this year, and we had to expand our facility from a single kitchen to an entire house,” says Oshella Homemade Goodness Director Pamela De Alwis. 

Operating through online platforms, an efficient delivery system was crucial to Oshella Homemade Goodness. Earlier the startup relied solely on its fleet of riders. This brought challenges to its pricing model, as the store had to charge the customer for delivery and have a minimum order quantity to ensure that the logistics did not pose a loss to the business. 

“We tried our best to make sure the riders always went on round trips to minimise the use of fuel, and hence had to delay our orders to see if any nearby ones would pop up, which was not favourable to the customer,” says De Alwis.

To overcome these logistical challenges, Oshella Homemade Goodness turned to technology. The business now utilises both PickMe Food and PickMe Flash. Through the Food option, Oshella Homemade Goodness’ customers within five km of the kitchen’s location can place orders. For orders outside of this five km radius, customers place their orders through direct contact via Facebook or Instagram. For these custom orders, the business uses PickMe Flash. 

“Previously there were occasional slow days that demotivated the staff from time to time. However, partnering with PickMe has provided us with a regular stream of orders every day. There is never a dull moment now,” stated De Alwis.  

Moreover, using Flash, customers outside the five km radius can also receive Oshella’s products at a very fair and nominal rate promptly. “When it comes to delivery charges, we try our best not to make the customer pay. This was our philosophy when we maintained our fleet of trishaws. With PickMe Flash, we are now able to reduce costs substantially and offer greater savings to our customers,” she added.   She went on to state that the business would continue to use technology, “For home cooks like ourselves, this technology offers us an affordable and trustworthy means of delivering food to our customers. From the pickup point to their doorsteps, our customers know the food is safe and untampered. Hence, we encourage other home cooks to also explore the platform.” 

Behind the scenes, PickMe CTO Mithila Somasiri shared how the company looks at logistics saying, “It’s simply about moving something from Point A to Point B.” Of course, the challenge is to do so in an efficient manner that customers are satisfied with. For SMEs like Oshella Homemade Goodness, local logistics platforms like PickMe leveraging technology has made this possible.