Harsh Kumar on Fueling Growth in Competitive Industries
Harsh Kumar is the Chief Strategy Officer at Shipsy. In this role, they've shown an ability to keep innovating and fueling growth within the business constantly. Today, they share their insights with The Industry Leaders.
Could you give us a brief overview of your business and your role within the company, especially in relation to innovation?
At Shipsy, we empower organizations across manufacturing, quick commerce, retail, eCommerce and logistics service providers to build resilient, connected, agile, sustainable, and autonomous supply chain and logistics operations. Our smart logistics management platform enables businesses to significantly reduce transportation costs, lower carbon footprint, enhance customer experiences, boost delivery productivity, and drive seamless cross-border freight movement.
In 2023, we expanded our portfolio by acquiring Stockone, a cloud-based warehouse management software (WMS) that enables brands and e-commerce companies to manage fulfillment operations at scale.
With a team of 350+ Shipsians based out of India, Dubai, Riyadh, Africa, Netherlands, and Indonesia, serving 220+ customers across the globe, we take immense pride in being partners to our customers in making every delivery quicker, greener, and more profitable.
To put it briefly, I advance business-critical relations across investor and partner networks at Shipsy, ensuring stakeholder commitments are met.
What kind of innovations have you or your company brought to the industry, and how have these set you apart from the competition?
Our solutions for cross-border logistics, warehousing and inventory, first-mile, mid-mile, and last-mile are powered by technologies like AI, Machine Learning, predictive/prescriptive intelligence, and advanced analytics. We are rapidly making supply chain operations autonomous. In other words, we are empowering business leaders to build processes capable of identifying logistics challenges, recommending accurate solutions, and escalating issues if needed, all by themselves. Let’s consider a simple use case. For instance, if the system predicts a delivery timeline will be missed due to sudden traffic congestion, it should be able to reallocate the order to a rider who is in a better position to comply with the promised time SLA.
In today’s logistics SaaS world, most solutions available are point solutions. Some only solve for cross-border problems, some only for last-mile, etc. We offer a truly end-to-end fulfillment experience solution that encompasses warehousing, inventory, and transportation management. We are extremely agile when it comes to going live. We have successfully ensured our platform is up and running in just a week's time. Also, we are partners to your customers and not just a technology provider. Shipsy takes immense pride in customers’ growth.
Can you walk us through a specific instance where innovation played a key role in solving a business challenge or capturing a new opportunity?
I would not term it as a ‘challenge.’ For us, every challenge is an opportunity to innovate and broaden the scope of our offerings. As you know, the Middle East has stringent security regulations regarding where sensitive data resides. In what was a very unique use case, we successfully empowered them to deploy a data localization strategy so that they could seamlessly partner with financial firms.
How do you foster a culture of innovation within your team, and what strategies do you use to encourage creative thinking?
We empower our team with autonomy and encourage cross-functional collaboration. This approach allows for diverse perspectives and creative problem-solving, essential in advancing logistics technology. We also place a strong emphasis on continuous learning, providing our team with access to training in cutting-edge technologies. This ensures that our innovations are not only technologically advanced but also relevant and impactful. At Shipsy we strongly believe that understanding the challenges our customers face at ground zero significantly helps create impactful solutions. So, we ensure that Shipsians are given the opportunity to visit customers’ warehouses, hubs, stores and also talk to riders directly.
Additionally, we create a safe environment for experimentation, recognizing that failure is a part of the innovation journey. By rewarding creative efforts and successful innovations, we motivate our team to think boldly and innovate continuously.
Innovation often comes with its set of challenges. Could you share an example of a significant obstacle you faced while trying to innovate, and how you overcame it?
Again, this was not really an obstacle but an opportunity to innovate. Once, we were assisting a customer, one of the world’s largest post and parcel providers, to address concerns about growing cost leakage due to both under and over-utilized delivery personnel. We were tasked with an excellent challenge: How can the customer optimize costs without compromising the customer experience while maintaining the same number of full-time riders? There was no straightforward answer, as we had to consider multiple delivery constraints like shift hours, holidays, pin-code level demand patterns, geographical constraints, rider familiarity with a particular locale, and more.
After multiple brainstorming sessions and in-depth research, we developed an AI-driven solution. This solution now empowers the customer to scientifically divide large geographies into smaller, more logical ones, and at the same time, accurately recommend (by taking into account a long list of constraints) the right mix of full-time and freelance riders needed to save costs and deliver exceptional service.
How do you measure the success of your innovation initiatives, and what role does customer feedback play in this process?
We adopt a multi-dimensional approach, deeply rooted in technology and customer insights. Firstly, we leverage advanced analytics to assess the impact (on customer’s business) of our innovations on key performance indicators like operational efficiency, cost savings, and time-to-market reductions. Our AI-driven analytics tools allow us to quantify improvements and identify areas for further enhancement.
Secondly, customer feedback is integral to our innovation cycle. We employ customer journey mapping tools to gather and interpret feedback across various touchpoints. This feedback not only helps in fine-tuning existing solutions but also sparks ideas for future innovations.
Looking ahead, what trends or areas of innovation do you think will be most crucial for businesses in your industry?
AI, in all its different forms, will keep disrupting the supply chain industry. Moving ahead, AI-powered agents and co-pilots will be more capable of identifying issues, recommend accurate solutions and even escalate issues if needed, empowering businesses to achieve 10X productivity. Similarly leveraging AI and all the data that resides across the different parts of a supply chain, business will be able to predict outcomes 10 times more accurately. Then AI -powered chat will completely alter how enterprise software is used.
Businesses will rapidly start focusing on cost-reduction using more scientific and dynamic logistics planning techniques. Last but not the least, the future of customer experience will increasingly be driven by unified fulfillment solutions that truly encompasses warehouse, inventory and transportation management.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs in competitive industries who are looking to drive innovation within their businesses?
I would say stay relentlessly customer-focused. Understand your customers' evolving needs and pain points deeply, as this insight is the cornerstone of meaningful innovation.
Your insights on innovation have been invaluable. For our audience who wants to stay updated with your innovative endeavors, where can they connect with you or follow your work?
LinkedIn - https://www.linkedin.com/in/hkumar29