During the pandemic, consumer behaviors have shifted to favor online shopping in light of travel restrictions and other SOPs. This has allowed entrepreneurs to start e-commerce businesses and traditional businesses to move online as well.
In turn, companies serving the e-commerce and logistics space saw an increase in demand for their services, which were crucial for businesses to reach their customers.
One local startup that has benefited from the boom is EasyParcel, which provides delivery services and helps you compare different delivery rates. For a quick introduction, this is a Penang-based startup from Bayan Lepas, founded by Clarence Leong. He also runs Pgeon, a last mile delivery service provider.
EasyParcel currently serves 700,000 customers on 4 continents and in 2020 the team recorded an 85% increase in turnover compared to the previous year.
Launch of 4 new programs despite limited resources
Now, when the pandemic first struck, the EasyParcel team saw a 40% drop in their parcel volumes for the first 2-3 weeks as many sellers were still adjusting to the sudden blow.
Fortunately, sellers quickly jumped into e-commerce and their parcel volume started to rise again as early as week four of the first MCO, Clarence shared with Vulcan Post. Since then, they have been able to comfortably reach their monthly goals.
But this increase in business opportunities was also a double-edged sword. “Due to the e-commerce boom, our business expansion plans were accelerated from the third to the first quarter,” Clarence said. They had to deal with a sudden surge in parcel volume while dealing with scarce resources such as transport equipment, manpower and shortened working hours due to AGC restrictions.
Despite this, they still found the opportunity to launch new programs:
- Paperless pgeon: Paperless shipping labels designed specifically for consumers who do not have access to a printer. Instead of printing a physical shipping mark, customers can handwrite the tracking number directly on packages;
- PgeonMart: An online grocery marketplace for local sundries and kedai runcit;
- PgeonFlex: A service that hires self-employed drivers who have lost their jobs due to the pandemic and travel restrictions;
- #Women Winner: An initiative launched in March 2020 to help women entrepreneurs in parcel delivery and take advantage of e-commerce to develop or start their business.
The #WomenPreneur campaign has empowered 10,000 women in 11 months by providing them with delivery solutions totaling RM3 million, which equates to 50 free deliveries for every female entrepreneur who joined the campaign.
Clarence added that they would even run a similar campaign in the future, as women make up 36% of small business owners and are the majority of EasyParcel users.
Navigate Travel Restrictions, Limited Workforce and more
To overcome the travel restrictions, they had to go through several departments to get the most accurate information on how these restrictions worked.
“Each state or district has different applications of the law, some might say yes, some might say no, and those decisions change overnight and over time,” Clarence explained.
Fortunately, they had the help of the Association of Malaysian Express Carriers (AMEC) to speed up communication between the different parties and get the right documents to resolve this issue.
Noticing the need to engage digitally, especially at times like this, the EasyParcel team also created a variety of ‘how-to’ content such as booking a delivery service, proper packaging. of your package and selecting the best courier service providers.
In the past 6 months, they have hosted over 100 live streaming events to continue educating new and potential customers on how to use their services as well.
As mentioned, they had launched 4 programs in the midst of the pandemic, and to implement these new programs seamlessly, they used their existing workforce to contribute instead of creating new teams.
“A 10% contribution from each existing team works wonderfully instead of a 100% from a new team that would take a few more months to launch a new project,” Clarence explained.
“This allowed PgeonMart to get started in 7 days from project planning, merchant acquisition, fleet development and website creation.
A network also makes the dream work
One of the new programs, PgeonFlex, has also helped the team manage the surge in parcel volumes for the year and during the holiday season as they have many drivers of various ethnicities.
On a larger scale, being an alumnus of the Malaysian Global Innovation & Creativity Center (MaGIC) gave them networking opportunities and, by joining the e @ Stanford program, they learned from giants like Facebook, Google and the Stanford College in Silicon Valley.
“Seeing the difference between East and West is an eye-opening experience that prompted us to revise our business model and key oversight measures based on what we experienced in the program,” Clarence recalled. .
Set foot in other SEA countries
Their expansion plans in the SEA region have unfortunately been hampered by MCO, but they are still eager to see it through and are looking for talent in other SEA countries to help them bring their services overseas.
On top of that, they faced the rising costs of complying with SOPs, but annoyed them to keep their employees and drivers safe throughout this time.
“The biggest lesson we’ve learned is to be agile, to be able to quickly move things from backend support to the people who are in the field doing pickup and deliveries,” Clarence said.
And since e-commerce logistics is such a hot industry that many are looking for a slice of the pie, we needed to know if he was concerned about EasyParcel’s stance.
“One of our strengths is that we have had the advantage of being Malaysia’s leading logistics service provider and have developed a strong network between local and overseas courier companies,” he replied. .
“That said, we will be more than happy to partner with new industry players entering the logistics arena in Southeast Asia, just as we have done with other established companies.
We are confident that the logistics industry will continue to grow and prosper in the future as the current pandemic contributes to the boom in e-commerce. This boom relies heavily on logistics, which plays an important supporting role in e-commerce activities.
Clarence Leong, Founder and CEO of EasyParcel
- You can find out more about EasyParcel here.
- You can read more about the EasyParcel articles we wrote here.
Featured image credit: Clarence Leong, founder of EasyParcel (left) and the EasyParcel team (right)
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