What is Delhivery, India’s next logistics titan?
Indian logistics and supply chain startup Delhivery has been valued at close to $3bn after closing its most recent funding round, led by US investment firm Fidelity.
The $277m injection is expected to be the final capital raise before an IPO, Delhivery said in a regulatory filing, with funds to be pumped into supporting and expanding an already swift and impressive period of growth.
The Singaporean sovereign wealth fund GIC, Chimera, and Baillie Gifford were also part of the round. The join prominent former investors including Times Internet, Tiger Global Management, Canada’s pension fund and many more. The business has now raised more than $1.2bn to date. The Economic Times reports an IPO would value the business at around $4bn, with sources indicating Delhivery would look to raise between $600-800m from the public listing.
Delhivery: startup to IPO
Delhivery began life as a logistics startup and food delivery business, serving a core customer base in India’s sprawling capital, Delhi - as its name suggests - and now boasts being the country’s biggest independent e-commerce logistics startup.
Launched in May 2011, by the end of the same year it had 150 employees, delivered around 500 shipments a day, and began serving ecommerce companies in Delhi NCR, a metropolitan region comprising Delhi and several other districts from surrounding states.
By 2016 it celebrated a major milestone in delivering its 100-millionth shipment. The following year it expanded its team to 15,000 people and domestic reach to 1,200 cities. Today Delhivery claims to have a pan-Indian reach, serve 10,000 customers, and has delivered one billion packages. It’s more than 40,000 team members and reach across more than 2,300 cities give it the ability to deliver one million packages a day, around the clock.
Delhivery’s network in numbers
- 24 automated sort centres
- 85+ fulfilment centres
- 75+ hubs
- 3000+ direct delivery centres
- 7500+ partner centres
- 15,000+ vehicles
Growth amid the pandemic
The pandemic has shifted consumer and business trends in favour of Delhivery’s logistics model, with ecommerce booming and local businesses in India opting to deliver direct to their customers. Delhivery’s last-mile network has also struck at opportunities to support enterprise-level businesses and bring agility to large-scale supply chains that have not been flexible enough to react to the pandemic.
Sahil Barua, CEO and co-foudner of Delhivery, told the Economic Times last August: ”The reality is that there has been an increasing shift of companies who want to work now with more organised players in logistics […] So for companies like Delhivery, we have been able to grow our businesses in this period because more demand has come.”
The chief executive also shared plans to further invest in scaling up its fleet of vehicles and to “launch three of the largest trucking terminals in the country “, which will be located in Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore, India’s most populace cities.
Should Delhivery’s IPO go ahead, it could shake up India’s logistics landscape. The valuation and fresh capital would allow it to compete more directly with DHL Express India Pvt., DHL’s subsidiary Blue Dart, and other current market leaders.
But there will be room for more competition: researchers forecast India’s ecommerce sector will be worth $99bn before 2025, with 220 million consumers shopping online by the middle of the decade. India, which has been at the centre of a new variant of COVID-19, will also look to administer 10m vaccinations per day this summer - the success of which will be reliant upon supply chain and efficient delivery.
FedEx is Reshaping Last Mile with Autonomous Vehicles
FedEx is embarking on an expanded test of autonomous, driver-less delivery vehicles to develop its last-mile logistics.
The US logistics firm piloted autonomous vehicles from Nuro in April this year, and the pair will now explore that further in a multi-year partnership. Cosimo Leipold, Nuro’s head of partnerships, said the collaboration "will enable innovative, industry-first product offerings that will better everyday life and help make communities safer and greener".
FedEx will explore a variety of on-road use cases for the autonomous fleet, including multi-stop and appointment-based deliveries, going beyond more traditional applications of the technology in single-route movement of goods from A-B. Exponential growth in ecommerce is spurring its broader experimentation in new autonomy solutions, Fed-Ex says, both in-warehouse and on-road.
“FedEx was built on innovation, and it continues to be an integral part of our culture and business strategy,” said Rebecca Yeung, Vice President, Advanced Technology and Innovation, FedEx Corporation. “We are excited to collaborate with an industry leader like Nuro as we continue to explore the use of autonomous technologies within our operations.”
The changing role of couriers
Unlike structured delivery networks, operating under long-term partnerships and contracts, agility is where couriers deliver true value - and their ability to deftly solve last-mile fulfilment has most acutely been felt during the pandemic. For the billions of people around the world forced to stay at home to protect themselves and their communities from the spreading COVID-19 virus, couriers have been a constant. They may have been the only knock at the door some people experienced for weeks or months at a time.
But the last-mile has been uprooted by a boom in ecommerce, a shift that has been most apparent in the UK, US, China and Japan, according to the Global Parcel Delivery Market Insight Report 2021 by Apex Insight. These are markets with dominant economies and populations used to running their lives with a tap of a screen or double-click of a mouse.
“Getting last mile delivery right has long been a challenge for retailers,” says Kees Jacobs, Vice President, Consumer Goods and Retail at Capgemini. “In 2019, 97% of retail organisations felt their last-mile delivery models were not sustainable for full-scale implementation across all locations. Despite increasing demand from customers, companies were struggling to make the last mile profitable and efficient.”
Jacobs says that the pandemic alleviated some of these stresses in the short term. With no other option, consumers were understanding and tolerant, if not entirely happy, with longer delivery times and less transparent tracking. “But, as extremely high delivery demand continues to be normal, customers will expect brands to contract their delivery times,” he adds.
Last mile's role in ESG
Demand and volume weren’t the only things that have changed during the pandemic - businesses looked closer to home and as a result became more sustainable. Bricks and mortar stores were transformed from mini-showrooms to quasi-fulfilment centres. Online retailers and other businesses sought local solutions to ship more faster. In densely populated London, UK alone, Accenture found that delivery van emissions dropped by 17%, while Chicago, USA and Sydney, Australia saw similar emissions savings.