Two years ago, Manjusha wanted to move a load of granite stones from Chittoor to a place called Kadayam near Tenkasi in Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu. She hired a transport agent who failed to arrange for a suitable truck/lorry for moving the material. The agent wasted 4 days of time just trying to arrange for a vehicle. Manjusha used her contacts and found out that there was a vehicle 70 km’s away from Chittoor in Renigunta, near Tirupati, that can transport her material to the destination. Manjusha told her transport agent about it on the second day, but he was not able to finalize it due to commission problems.
Lack of communication and negotiation skills on part of the agent resulted in two lorries waiting idly to transport material from Renigunta to Tirunelveli. On the other hand, Manjusha had material that needed to be transported, but not vehicle. “It was a frustrating experience,” she recalls. Finally, after five days of waiting and idle time, the transport agent managed to hire a vehicle for transporting the granite slabs from Chittoor to Kodayam.
Manjusha was hassled by the experience. She thought about people who go through such hassles with the transport systems in the region. This inspired her to come up with a solution – The Solution! And the result of that idea is Lorryguru.com.
Manjusha, with her husband and business partner, Purushotham, who is also an ERP consultant and programmer, decided to create a user-friendly platform for freight exchange. The idea was to create a common platform where customers, lorry owners, transport agents and companies could exchange relevant information on freight exchange.
“Every now and then, you will have people wanting to move goods from one place to another. But finding a suitable lorry is not easy,” Manjusha says. The common practice is to approach transport or booking agents and wait for them to respond to the requirements. This practice has its own benefits, which is perhaps why is it became a standard across the country. However, the process also has certain issues that can cause hiccups in timely transportation of goods.
The steep variation in prices, commission percentages and availability of the right vehicle that meets the customers’ needs are a few among them. “The lorry offered may not be suitable for your needs. For example, you may want to move furniture but the lorry you get is more suitable for moving construction goods”, she adds. It is often a problem and a loss for lorry owners who have to deliver goods to a destination, and return with an empty lorry. This also adds to the costs of the customers. “So, why not advertise and let people know that there’s a lorry available at a certain time and with a certain capacity to go to a certain destination. There may be someone who needs the service,” adds Manjusha.
And then, Lorryguru.com was started.
How Does it Work?
The objective of Lorryguru.com is to provide a fully functional and reliable domestic online freight exchange platform for the logistics industry, SMEs and the general public. The mission of the platform is to eliminate the problems of “empty load” journeys for lorry owners, while ensuring that companies and the average customers who need vehicle for transporting their goods get the best deal in terms of price, safe delivery of their goods and the right kind of vehicle to meet their needs.
The platform lists the available vehicles waiting to return to their origin (after they have delivered the material/load) and matches them with customers or companies wanting to deliver or transport goods in the same direction, thus resolving the problem of the truck returning empty after a delivery, something that logistics companies and haulers can benefit from. Presently, Lorryguru.com. features the latest models of vehicles to the basic ones to meet a variety of customer needs.
A Challenging Project for the IT-Savvy Couple
Creating the platform was easier than getting lorry owners to register their fleet of lorries on the platform, according to Manjusha. Ever since the project began, Manjusha had to run from post to post – from meeting the lorry owners association to make them understand the concept and convincing them to choose the platform to marketing the platform to businesses and customers, to visiting toll gates to understand the costs and charges involved.
A lot of effort was put in by her marketing team to get small and major industries in the region to list their freight exchange requirements on the website. “It was tiring and challenging, but it was worth it. Convincing lorry owners, from single lorry owners to big freight companies, to place their Lorries on Lorryguru.com.com takes time. It’s a new concept here,” she says. But hard work pays, and it certainly did reward Manjusha and her team well.
Within just eight months, the website had 200 lorry owners/transport companies and customers signed up on the site. Today, she manages a platform that features over 9000 lorry owners and companies and individuals with a requirement for transportation of goods.
Goods Transportation Made Easy
Lorryguru uses the freight exchange algorithm (matching the service provider to the customer and vice versa) to offer a simple solution to a seemingly complicated transport problem. The good news is that this service is currently being offered for free. “It works both ways, for the lorry owners and those who subscribe to the lorry services,” says Purushotham.
“For example, if I have a lorry returning to Chennai from Vijayawada with an empty load, I can place an ad on the platform stating the type of lorries I have, the goods I can carry, the maximum weight of the load, the exact time I will be available in Vijayawada and my contact details. And if there is someone looking for a lorry to Chennai that matches the one that I have, I could move his or her goods, maybe at a bargain price, instead of returning home empty,” adds Manju.
“Based a survey conducted by Lorryguru.com, it is estimated that, on any working day, 25 percent of trucks and vans on our roads are travelling empty. This logistical inefficiency is a huge cost to the transport industry and can run into millions of Rupees annually. After completing a transport delivery, many trucks and vans return to their depots empty because they could not find suitable freight. Small and medium-sized transport service providers suffer from this setback and are always looking for opportunities to redress this imbalance,” she says.
“On the loaded trip, transport operators can pass the operating costs to the customer but it is not commercially feasible to pass the cost of the return journey to the customer. This financial vacuum can be redressed by reducing the number of empty trips. This is where the Lorryguru.com Freight Exchange platform can assist,” she ends.