I love online shopping. The idea of I can buy anything I need within a few clicks and the products will be delivered to my doorstep is irresistible. I started to shop online while I was studying in Taiwan a few years back. The e-commerce marketplaces over there have been very competitive for some years. An efficient logistics is a crucial factor for the success for any e-commerce. Therefore, the logistic services in Taiwan have always been advanced.
When I was back in Malaysia, I felt great. Because these few years are the golden years for e-commerce in almost every country in Southeast Asia. I get the chance to witness the booming of e-commerce and experience the improvements of courier services.
As an end user, my biggest concern while shopping online is the reliability of the courier services. A good courier service provider can make sure they deliver the products on time, to the right location, and without causing any damage on the products. Some of the e-commerce platforms provide a few options of couriers, what I do is I always try different couriers to do comparisons.
Some of the courier services prioritize office buildings, they tend to send faster if I set the location at my office. Up to this point, I had never encountered any big problem with any courier services (do have some hiccups sometimes but it’s fine), not even with Poslaju, perhaps it’s because both my home and office are in city areas. But there’s one courier service that impressed me, which is Ninja Van.
I had chosen Ninja Van thrice for my goods from Hermo. My dad collected two parcels while I was working. For each time, I received a confirmation email attached with a delivery report in PDF file right after my dad received the parcel. The system email came even faster than my dad’s WhatsApp message! This is really a ‘real-time’ tracker! But this is not the most impressive part yet.
The one unique experience I had with Ninja Van was when they introduced Ninja Collect to me. In Taiwan, it is a norm for shoppers to pick up their goods from convenience stores like 7-11 and Family Mart. Occasionally, shoppers will be entitled to some special offers like free ice-cream, 50% discounts for specific items, etc. when they pick up their goods at the selected store.
I didn’t think this can happen in Malaysia because Malaysians don’t really rely that much on 24 hours convenience stores. The coverage of chained convenience stores in Malaysia is not as great as in Taiwan or Japan, so it wouldn’t be convenient for us to pick up goods from convenience stores. Therefore, I was very surprised when I saw Ninja Van offers users to collect our goods from their Ninja Points.
Ninja Van partners with mailbox service providers, pharmacies, bakeries, etc. to set up Ninja Points. This is a wise move because these are shops that widely spread across the nation and frequently visited by consumers. When I received a message from Ninja Van stating that I could collect my parcel faster by using Ninja Collect, I decided to give it a try.
I chose to collect from MBE at my workplace, the tracking system immediately changed the location from the initial address to my selected MBE. The next day around noon, I received a notification telling me my parcel was ready for collection! After work, I dropped by MBE to collect my parcel before heading back. It was simple and easy. I just needed to tell the staff my name and verify by using a 4-digit code given. Then, I got to go back with my parcel!
It was fast since they picked up my goods from Hermo’s warehouse in Johor Bahru on Thursday and able to drop my goods at MBE by Friday’s noon. I could get my parcel earlier and could go out freely on Saturday without worrying that the Ninja might deliver the parcel to me while I was not at home. On the other hand, Ninja Van saved time and manpower. Moreover, they generated win-win situation with their partnering Ninja Points because these retailers gain more exposure by joining the Ninja Collect’s network.
“Why should I collect parcels by myself? They are paid!” I guessed some people will think this way. The bottom line is Ninja Collect is just an extra option for you. If you like to try, you go ahead. If you don’t, just ignore it. They will still deliver your goods in the standard way. As far as I know, Ninja Van wouldn’t always ask consumers to collect the parcels by themselves, you will receive the notification only if the algorithm detected that you can get your parcel faster by using Ninja Collect. For addition, you might also be offered some extra perks when you collect the parcel from selected points.
So, how did Ninja Van deliver these outstanding services successfully? What are their secrets?
First, they are not just an ordinary logistics company. They are a tech startup specializing in providing innovative technology-based solutions to optimize e-commerce logistics. The co-founder, Lai Chang Wen founded an online custom men’s apparel retailer, Marcella prior to the founding of Ninja Van.
While managing Marcella, he faced difficulties because the existed courier services couldn’t fulfil his business needs and thus lead to a lot of unhappy customers. Therefore, he understood what are the blind spots and he has the passion to break the bottlenecks in logistics in Southeast Asia.
In 2014, the three co-founders set up Ninja Van, despite ‘zero experience’ in logistics. Although the beginning months were all about inefficiencies, the trio didn’t want to hire logistics industry veterans because they didn’t want to bring in just some ‘old tricks’. They wanted to do it in innovative ways by using their mathematical and technical skills to improve the delivery process.
Technology and algorithms were used to improve every process. They calculate the best route a driver should take to save time and fuel costs. Instead of using the outdated mail-sorting technology where documents were usually handwritten, they used code which every staff can use handphones to scan the parcels to instantly find out what should be done accordingly.
See? The code is the where the magic comes! Traditional couriers cannot achieve real-time tracking because they need to manually report to the system. And it’s almost impossible to change your delivering location once your parcel is sent. But with the technology Ninja Van has, the code carry messages for each parcel. It can update the system instantly about the status of the parcel so you can really track your parcel in real-time. If you changed the location (for example, when you selected Ninja Collect), the system would update the information immediately. So, when the staff scan your parcel, the code will show the new location.
Ninja Van is solving the logistics problems in the region with an innovative way to the power of technology. The Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin commented, “So these are the types of businesses that create new markets and drive through real positive change. They’re not destructing, they’re enabling.”