In the wake of Covid-19, a majority of businesses and industries across the board suffered losses that crippled the economy in a matter of months. But a handful of company saw an upturn in profit and demand, particularly in fields linked to e-commerce.
On-demand same-day delivery platform Lalamove is one such company that became almost ubiquitous in the midst of the movement control order (MCO). According to Shen Ong, country director of Lalamove Malaysia, demand for their platform’s services tripled from 5,000 orders per day to nearly 15,000 within the first week of its implementation.
“With companies like mine, the priority has always been to ensure that you have a very strong supply base of riders to accommodate the demand. But when the lockdown happened, all of a sudden, your demand severely outstrips the supply of riders you have and you’re met with the struggle of getting more riders on the platform,” Ong tells us over a Zoom video call.
It wasn’t because there weren’t enough delivery partners who were keen to come on board. On the contrary, as a result of thousands losing their jobs owing to businesses closing down, many looked to the gig economy – in which Lalamove is a player – for their livelihood.
The real challenge was in ensuring a hiring process that complied to the regular standard operating procedures of the company, on top of new hygiene and safety regulations concerned with curbing the spread of the pandemic.
Doubling down on operations
Instead of pivoting to new strategies, Ong explains that Lalamove worked more aggressively on its existing model to tackle the supply issue.
“A lot of resources were diverted – everything from manpower to marketing – to making sure that we had the operation infrastructure to onboard all these new riders and drivers,” Ong reveals.
“Even some of the sales team were moved to operations just so we could push things forward in driver activation at a time when we could barely hire anybody in person, and to get things on the ground in terms of distribution of collaterals.”
“My definition of resilience is to continuously keep moving forward… because stagnation is the worst thing that can happen to you.”
After these delivery partners are verified, there’s the challenge of conducting training sessions. Fortunately, Lalamove had started virtual training long before the pandemic hit, so it was a matter of ensuring their platform was stable enough to handle higher traffic.
With regards to hygiene and safety, he admits that there’s no 100% guarantee when you’re in the logistics space.
“What we can do is try to educate the drivers and provide penalties if they’re caught not performing how they’re supposed to,” he explains. “We also provide sanitisation and face masks, and in the earlier stages, we gave out gloves and hand sanitisers too.”
Don’t just act; act fast
It took the company roughly a month to stabilise processes and start directing efforts to future plans of expansion. Since then, its growth has continued to about 20,000 deliveries a day.
Looking back, Ong believes speed and action were the two biggest factors in overcoming the challenges wrought by the pandemic: “If you are in the position to make decisions, you have to believe in whatever you do and you have to execute it immediately. Rather than making sure everything is perfect, focus on two or three things that are really key to your goal and you can usually work on the smaller things along the way.”
On his definition of resilience, he says, “It would be to continuously keep moving forward. I think it is very important to always set goals for ourselves whether it’s short term, mid-term or long term because stagnation is the worst thing that can happen to you.
“Even if you lose your job or you fail at starting something because of the lockdown, I think it’s important to think about what your next step is because if you stay stagnant for too long, you get complacent in that position and that can be very detrimental for your development in the long run.”
Learn more about Lalamove on the official website here.
Videography: Anson Siau