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Nishith Rastogi
"The supply chains are transforming and adapting the consumer-driven approach while structuring efficient future demand predictions."

Nishith Rastogi
CEO, Locus

High Tech Setting Foot In Conservative Market

January 30, 2018
High end technology and automation is currently the need of the hour. The conservative market has realised that in order to sustain the fierce global competition, it is highly essential to develop and adopt the new technology platform. Nishith Rastogi, CEO, Locus talks about the importance of high end technology in the logistics sectors and highlights the Emerging themes and trends for 2018.

By Namrata Nikale Tanna, Oil Asia Journal

OAJ - Kindly describe the business model of Locus ?
Rastogi : Locus is a state-of-the-art technology platform that automates and optimises the logistic operations to improve efficiency, consistency and transparency. Founded in 2015, by IIT & BITS alumnus, Locus uses proprietary algorithms to automate human decisions involved in transporting a package or person between two locations. A sophisticated route optimization engine that plays an important role in solving the real world problems such as incomplete addresses, unpredictable traffic, legal route restrictions, time windows & more, to reduce human dependency and business cost.

Locus works on a pay-per-transaction model with no overhead costs. While adopting a pay-as-you-go model, we also allow customers to subscribe to some value added features on the go. We don't charge any annual or quarterly licensing fee - We have a pure transaction based pricing model so that we are aligned with our client’s business goals. We strongly believe that Locus grows with the customer.

Lcous has been proudly serving high scale market leaders in India such as BigBasket, Unilever, Marico, Urban Ladder, Gati, and Tata Group.

OAJ - What was your ideology behind starting Locus?
Rastogi: The 2014 December infamous Delhi’s Uber incident left me astonished, realising the importance of safety our loved ones. It was probably the turning point wherein I thought of introducing a concept that will ensure the safety. Along with Geet Garg, we conceptualised the structure of Ridesafe a real-time route deviation detection (R2D2) mobile application for women safety.

We were pleasantly surprised when food tech companies started adopting RideSafe to track their delivery fleet in early 2015. Realising that there was a huge opportunity in this sphere due to the absence of technological innovation, we launched Locus, a logistics automation platform.

OAJ - May we request you to highlight the challenges you faced while introducing Locus as India is still follows a horse and buggy method in certain industries?
Rastogi: Technology can sometimes appear as a black box to the end user, so building a level of trust and demonstrating the value addition before wide scale adoption is highly challenging.

Thus, the biggest hurdle we encountered during client acquisition was the associated ‘change management’. The implementation of a new process brings significant changes to a company’s conventional business model and thus embracing the adoption can be challenging.

We are working towards countering this problem, via the ingrained problem solving approach of our on-ground deployment team, who work with the clients to ensure a smooth transition & re-aligning KPI’s.

OAJ - How is locus helping the consumers to bridge the gap between the old fashioned technology and modern technology that will create strong unbroken supply chain and also add transparency in the system?
Rastogi: The paradigm shift caused by the age of empowered consumers has forced supply chains to reinvent themselves. In order to meet the new consumer’s expectations, the supply chains are transforming and adapting the consumer-driven approach while structuring efficient future demand predictions. This will eventually ensure the supply meets the predicted demand. Predictive Analytics will not only highlight the expected outliers in the current scenario, but will also help model, simulate and predict future situations, to aid in key-decisions.

With such a dynamic environment comes escalated infrastructure & logistics cost, and this is where Locus fits in. We have converted a very traditional but complex decision making process into a scientific problem that our cutting edge algorithm can mmic & optimize.

OAJ - Could you please share with us Locus’s growth strategy for coming year?
Rastogi:Locus initially optimized intra-city operations for clients across multiple industries; however, we have now commissioned our platform to service intercity operations as well. Our focus is to manage freight distribution since transportation is the largest sector which is unorganised on a global scale. In India, the freight industry is estimated at $100 billion and contributes to 6% of the GDP. A bulk of this involves inter-city logistics. Understanding the primary problems that the logistics industry faces currently - underutilisation of volumes and fleet which leads to budgeting concerns, Locus has been working towards solving the same.

By 2020, Locus aims to automate all human decisions in dispatching a package from Point A to Point B. We are looking to expand our team to get the best talent. We are also focusing on new markets like South-East Asia and the Middle East.

OAJ - How is Locus ensuring a safe & secure supply chain in the market?
Rastogi: Locus solutions fits seamlessly in the supply chain, mimicking human emotions & making intelligent decisions right from the point of dispatch to the customer's doorstep. It offers extensive visibility at every nodal point of the supply chain, right from getting real time order updates & lives location of the riders, to providing predictive alerts on exceptions, thus enabling one to take data driven decisions. Locus system is built to enable proactive management of the supply chain, and address any safety or security exceptions pre-emptively.

OAJ - The global market for energy and power systems is one of the major factors that are driving the demand for industrial automation industry globally, how does it benefit Locus?
Rastogi: The growing economy and population growth are the main drivers for oil & gas demand, increasing every year. The import content in oil & gas sector is in the range of 15% for refinery to 67% for upstream which makes the sector even more lucrative. Owing to Make in India initiatives, the oil and gas sector is highly liberalized to attract private investment and increase domestic production. A number of policy reforms have been initiated by the Government to remove obstacles to investment and incentivize oil and gas sector on the lines of ease of doing business and minimum government maximum governance.

The introduction of GST has led to ease of doing business & faster lead times.

OAJ - May we request you to highlight Emerging themes and trends that will shape the Logistics sector in 2018?
Rastogi: I would like to discuss the two trends that will revolutionise the logistics sectors in the coming future.

E-commerce whirlwind - Leap into the Tier 2 & 3 Cities in India.

Tier 2 & 3 cities have been the biggest calling for the e commerce majors in the year 2017. With the release of data connectivity-for-all and cheap smartphone technology, the appetite has become larger to adopt and utilize e commerce. This creates an exciting time for logistic industries to work cohesively by adopting innovative methods to address and optimise logistic challenges that are unique to the tier 2 & 3 cities.

E commerce industries knock at the local brick and mortar shops for their last mile delivery:

E-Com companies today fight for mind share in customer’s head by being as close to the customer as possible. To do this, instead of viewing Offline & Online as competitors of each other, they are being integrated into one network, making “Omni-Channel” the buzz word of 2018 for Supply Chain.

Myntra, a fashion giant owned by Flipkart, is a great example which introduced “Mensa Network” that connects all small shops to help aid last mile deliveries in smaller towns. The motto to success is - Order at one place, Fulfill from any place.

OAJ - Could you please elaborate on how Locus is bringing innovation in supply chain of Oil & Gas industry?
Rastogi: Locus offers reliability, transparency & operational consistency across verticals. We are currently in pilot stage with some of the largest Oil & Gas companies for end to end visibility of intercity terminal depots movements & optimised vehicle routing for intra-city bottling plant movements. Locus is the answer to all the questions, "Where should your truck be", and not just where the truck is right now. It is the intelligence behind your logistics, provides control over on-ground operations, and improves end-customer experience.

The Oil & Gas segment has major pain points of long queuing due to lack of visibility of inward fleet on ground, limited loading and unloading bays at the plants which leads to high operational inefficiencies along with delay in further deliveries to bulk customers and Auto LPG Dispensing Stations (ALDS), thereby leading to higher operating costs.

Locus’ intelligent algorithm aids optimisation of logistics including the end to end fleet visibility.

The human decisions are replaced by sophisticated AI powered platform to suggest the most efficient dispatch route plans considering the regulated carrying capacity on the specified routes for special cargo movements. The restricted route constraint is critical and specific to the Oil & Gas sector which is being modelled beautifully on the Locus platform.

OAJ - How do you think government can help the startups in their growth and what reforms are you expecting in 2018?
Rastogi: Government of India has adapted to the changing start up scenarios and now it has to become a good enterprise customer for the startups. Even with the current regulations and support frameworks, the government should encourage by adopting solutions of the young startups.

OAJ - Lastly, is India ready for digitalisation?
Rastogi: With the developing economy, India is becoming one of the fastest adopters of technology, hence, paving way for a massive digitisation across the nation. This is a huge step towards building a corruption-free transparent system. The turnkey initiative to implement Aadhar in India proved to be an essential step forward towards digitisation. The effort required to digitise an economy like India is much harder when compared to markets like US or Germany.

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