E-commerce forges B2B2C alliance with on-demand delivery partner

January 17, 2022 09:06
Photo: Lalamove

COVID-19 has fueled a surge in online shopping, attested by government data that show a sharp growth in retail sales in Hong Kong for the ninth straight month in October, reflecting the remarkable resilience of the local retail sector.

Helping to fuel the transactions and ensure local small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) continue to thrive are services that with just a few clicks allow them to receive orders and offer them instant connection with the driver, walker, van or lorry that is delivering the goods.

Amid a boom in online shopping, simply dropping off the items at the door or at the reception is not enough. E-commerce operators must ensure deliveries reach the actual consumers quickly, safely and at a minimum cost.

These on-demand delivery platforms like Lalamove have laid out the groundwork in the pre-pandemic era, creating an ecosystem of driver-partners and their vehicles to help SMEs reach their customers, thereby helping to set up a thriving B2B2C mode.

Under the B2B2C model, small businesses utilize ecommerce platforms and infrastructure such as Shopify and Boutir to sell to end-consumers. The alliance between on-demand delivery platforms with these ecommerce platforms allows SMEs to tap into timely, cost-effective and efficient delivery services. This structure creates opportunities for small businesses by offering them peer-to-peer selling capabilities online and on the mobile. Also, SMEs save time along with costs that they would have incurred if they had to develop and maintain their own e-commerce platforms and delivery services.

Additionally, on-demand delivery allows SMEs to scale their deliveries when they need and then completely scale back when they don’t. This flexibility leaves such businesses with no overheads or monthly commitments, helping them to concentrate on all other important areas of running a business and making their products.

For example, during the peak seasons like Valentine's and Christmas, online florists would have flower orders fluctuate day by day. Working with a traditional delivery company, they would need to commit to paying for a certain number of deliveries per period and adhere to a schedule drawn up by the logistics company. And if they wanted to add more deliveries to accommodate an unexpected last-minute customer, or reduce deliveries to save on costs when business is slow? Tough luck.

The opportunity to manage deliveries via a digital platform such as web or mobile apps, however, flips this system on its head. It gives the power back to small business leaders, so they can be agile and instantly scale deliveries according to their exact needs. The business can quickly add in more delivery orders when business is booming, schedule deliveries in advance to help plan operations, and reduce service or eliminate it completely when deliveries are not needed.

Meanwhile, managing the transit journey of goods – from the manufacturer to the end-customer – can be quite complicated for a business that has multiple orders, especially if there are multiple goods involved that need to be sourced from different origin points. On-demand delivery platforms can often iterate and develop solutions that fit the relevant business need.

By leveraging forward-looking technology platforms, small businesses have been able to surmount various obstacles and employ app-based solutions that has enabled a post-COVID retail ecosystem that brings people closer together, introduces them to new experiences and ultimately transforms the overall retail landscape to revitalize the local economy.

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Managing Director of Lalamove Hong Kong