Arjun Soman

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Any solutions to revolutionise the product distribution system in India?

Product Distribution has been one of the major bottlenecks for any company, say a startup or MNC... Productive discussions in this topic could give interesting insights to us ! :)


ref: http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2012/08/in_india_distribution_is_god.html

  • Aug 22 2012: Flying drones. Big ones at the regional level, smaller ones for villages and smaller yet for deliveries to individual homes. Payment in advance, of course.
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      Aug 22 2012: So basically...

      Instead of the US postal system, we just use drones to drop parachute packages to like carrier pigeons or Owls from Harry Potter.

      nice...

      Oh what if they made this privatized? Like every home has a carrier drone to send stuff.
      • Aug 22 2012: You are catching on to this idea. No need for parachutes, the drones would be like helicopters, or perhaps more like birds. A century from now the idea of using human beings to walk around delivering mail and packages will seem ridiculous.
    • Aug 23 2012: Been there, done that, since, I dunno, last year? Checked out TacoCopter http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/23/tacocopter-startup-delivers-tacos-by-unmanned-drone-helicopter_n_1375842.html

      The biggest problem is bureaucracy. Tell me Arjun, how open is the Indian government? Are they open to new ideas, or will they nix new methods to distribution?
      • Aug 23 2012: "done that" --- not yet.

        "The biggest problem is bureaucracy."

        Not exactly. One of the big problems is security. The government is rightly concerned that the TacoCopter could also deliver very harmful packages. Your article lists a bunch more problems that have not all been solved. But with creativity and determination, they will be.
        • Aug 23 2012: Bzzzt! Wrong!

          It really WAS bureaucracy; specifically the FAA rules which stated that "Currently, there are no means to obtain an authorization for commercial UAS operations in the NAS"
          http://www.faa.gov/about/initiatives/uas/uas_faq/index.cfm?print=go#Qn7

          I don't know about India, are you able to obtain authorization to operate a UAS in commercial capacity?

          Security is the least of the problem, sir. Tell me, how does the US postal agency make sure that they are not delivering harmful packages right now? ;)
        • Aug 28 2012: I know of another team of techies who has perfected commercial drone technology applicable in security, agriculture, and some other industry. Everything is good to go - not alpha, not beta, but commercial end product; everything was tested to near perfection! They failed to launch their business though... due to, you guess it, the FAA.

          Specifically this: http://www.faa.gov/about/initiatives/uas/uas_faq/index.cfm?print=go#Qn7
          Can I fly a UAS under a COA or experimental certificate for commercial purposes?
          No. Currently, there are no means to obtain an authorization for commercial UAS operations in the NAS. However, manufacturers may apply for an experimental certificate for the purposes of R&D, market survey and crew training.

          In your secret email you say TED is about learning, not ego. That I absolutely agree Mr Barry Palmer. BUT! When I try to teach you about something and you refuses to learn, and secretly sent me some email trying to cow me into submission, what course of action should I take?
      • Aug 28 2012: In case anyone else reading this conversation is actually interested in Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS):

        I sent Jon Ho an email pointing out that I thought he was leaving you with the erroneous impression that 'bureaucracy' was the main problem. The article to which Jon provided a link has a whole list of problems that must first be addressed:

        "Simpson told HuffPost that because of the FAA's regulations -- as well as other minor problems, like navigating the treacherous terrain of an urban environment, keeping the food warm, finding a city map precise enough to avoid crashes 100 percent of the time, avoiding birds, balconies and telephone wires, delivering food to people indoors, delivering food to the right person, dealing with greedy humans who would just steal the Tacocopter as soon as it got to them, etc. -- the Tacocopter website exists more as a conversation starter about the future of food delivery (and delivery in general), as well as about the commercial uses of unmanned vehicles, than an actual startup plan or business."

        To provide just one example, small UAS aircraft must be able to avoid birds. I do not know it for a fact, but I expect that right now someone in the FAA is trying to develop a standard test to demonstrate that a drone can dodge birds. I would not want that project. So technically Jon Ho was correct, the FAA bureaucracy is holding things up assuring our safety and the safety of the birds.

        Mr. Jon Ho, I submit that I have not refused to learn, I have just offered an opinion that is different from your opinion, based on the same source that was available to both of us. If you have anything more factual to provide, I am eager to learn what you have to offer.
        • Aug 29 2012: Ahahaha, we are basically saying the same thing, my friend! ;)
          Except you drilled down into more detailed heh

          TacoCopter was the one and only high profile drone project though. I personally know 3 others that couldn't get off the ground due to the FAA rules. The best part? They have perfected the technology; drones flying in sequences avoiding high tension wire, birds, buildings, etc.

          I would provide more information, but due to bureaucracy aka Non Disclosure Agreement (NDA) and Uniform Trade Secrets Act (UTSA), yeah....
  • Aug 21 2012: This could be a potential problem that can affect the investment and foreign interest directed towards India... the idea of learning from international systems like USPS is a great step to take..I had recently looked at a deal between Bharti and Walmart and the whole retail sector upheaval.. and it was a very good idea to ask the foreign entry firms to source supplies from local farmers. In the bigger picture.. if larger MNCs want their products and services to be a success in the Indian market.. they WILL have to innovate and bring in the necessary resources to improve the back end supply chain (and the distribution) to their level of performance. Maybe a good, contract based collaboration with some foreign experts will help India not only open its doors... but also really bridge the gap between firms and end customers.... just a thought :)
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    Aug 21 2012: Two ideas, immediately spring to mind. Both a bit outside the box, and not very well informed, so I apologize if I'm wasting your time... but here goes...

    1. The United States Post Office - an often lampooned organization, I believe, still provides relatively reliable distribution service throughout India. Partner with them, create an organization of comparable power, by closing a program in your government that the people no longer support. I think the US and India might have just a close enough relationship, that we would be as helpful as we possibly could... I think we just designed a bunch of electric trucks too. But, that's the naively optimistic political answer.

    2. Electric motorcycles, with carts, sidecars, or roofs, preferably solar powered. Mini Electric trucks. Or... And this one is really unique... Remote control planes, for local shipping.

    Just fun stuff to think about. All of them require serious investment or political support though, so good luck.
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    Aug 22 2012: Social Media is a powerful mass media advertising tool too.
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    Aug 22 2012: Yes JKP, well said...

    Some time back, there was a thought by the Indian government to enhance postal system to a miniature banking system as well... But there was strong refusal from State Bank of India on this plan... It is because it would loose its present stature as India's most prominent bank.... Such Individual preferences by many prominent forces in the market would prevent such a revolutionary move... Could you guys suggest better insights on improving this...
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    Aug 22 2012: Well Edward, any insights about how to put a full stop to corruption?
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      Aug 22 2012: Use the "Search Conversations" button to search for "India corruption" to see many ideas about this globally important question. Do you not have questions about my second suggestion?
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    Aug 22 2012: Yes Varsha Suresh, I totally agree to what you said... If Walmart wants to be price leaders in India, they have no other choice than cutting the supply chain cost, which one of the most challenging task they are going to face in Indian market. Personally, awaiting giants like walmart and tesco to launch in India and see their innovative moves.

    Varsha, any Idea about how they have worked out in the Supply chain & distribution in a large country like China?
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    Aug 22 2012: End corruption in government and accept all citizens equally.
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    Aug 21 2012: Good one DH !

    The first point, you are very much right... Most banks in India are targeting this potentiality of postal system in the country. India with a huge untapped rural market is a tough place to penetrate into. And the only available, well set distribution channel is Postal System. And Banks have already started working on this idea to spread their presence over this space. The second point looks interesting and a bit fancy too :P

    Excellent thought DH.. ! Keep in touch :)
    • Aug 21 2012: When private couriers failed the very same people who had turned their back to Govt. Postal Department are very eager to modernize the so called ailing and incapable postal dept. The post man who delivers letters to our office and the locality one day came by motor cycle to deliver the letters as it was very hot on that day about 49 c, I was happy that he had finally been given a motor cycle to deliver letters but when I asked about it he said I am running fever and I knew that I will not able to deliver letter by cycle and hence borrowed the motor cycle from a friend filled the petrol by my money. I could not sleep on that night thinking about how to improve the condition of the poor post man. So it is not the papers or letters dear it is question of flesh and that too flesh of our own. My idea here is to merge all banking & postal entities to become one single entity. The ATMs be made a bit more spacious and equipped with all kinds of gadgets like computer, fax etc. It will be having all the facility of post and bank. It should be manned by one capable employee. The old post box should be modernized so that the letter & packets can be stored in the mobile postal van by employing robotic hands or a succsion pipe where the pipe fitted to Post box sucks the letters and parcels in to the chambers in the van. Then the question of delivery-the local and rural unemployed youth be engaged with a salary to maintain his expenses and study. They should be given an area which can be covered by cycle within 2-3hrs. It can generate huge amount of jobs. It will be win win all for all. The aged post man be given the desk jobs, consultancy service to train & guide the young post man, manual shorting jobs.I will be all for all the stake holders.