Tusker provides an affordable and efficient delivery logistics service for rural communities. Using mobile technology they crowdsource potential freight transporters with the ability to deliver products from “supply” points in towns to “demand hubs” in rural villages and vice versa, thereby enhancing access to products and reducing distribution costs.
Last mile logistics are a major barrier to economic growth in rural India – where 700 million of the country’s population live. Poor infrastructure, tough terrain and long distances make reaching rural communities difficult and more expensive both for customers, retailers and transporters.This significantly affects the level of access rural consumers have to essential household products such as solar lights, clean cookstoves, water purifiers and items like pharmaceuticals and agricultural inputs.
Making products available to rural markets is a complex issue. Consumer demand for new social impact products is often dispersed and fragmented – which significantly increases the transport costs and final product price for rural customers. Secondly, it is difficult for transporters to accurately aggregate supply and demand of products at a village level. Without this type of data and the poor infrastructure, low-margin businesses assume it is economically unviable to serve rural communities – leaving the neediest consumers un-served or having to pay a hefty premium. Yet, the reality is a high number of trucks travel on a daily basis between villages and towns with spare capacity.
As a result of these challenges, rural communities experience product shortages, shop closures, longer delivery times and unreliable and expensive transportation options. While there have been efforts made by product manufacturers to develop their own rural logistics, these have proven to be unviable and difficult to scale.
In 2014, SF identified Logistimo, a company with a strong track record in mobile and supply chain technology for health care clinics in emerging markets, as the ideal partner to co-create an “on demand” rural freight service, called Tusker.
Tusker was set up to improve access of social impact products in rural villages by providing freight logistics services for a range of products such as concrete, textiles, fertiliser and solar lights at a reasonable cost and in a timely manner. By developing a mobile and web technology platform suited for all phones, Tusker allows anybody with a registered vehicle to fulfil transportation jobs for rural communities.
Tusker has harnessed digital technology to develop an innovative rural freight business. Through the Tusker mobile-based app, rural transporters are crowdsourced and information is collected on both journeys being made between villages and towns and their spare load capacity. At the same time, Tusker collects data on product orders, and uses data analytics to “match-make” the demand of deliveries at the village-level with registered drivers that are already making the journey. By integrating GPS and geo data on shipments they are also able to track orders to ensure secure delivery.
As well as this, Tusker creates employment opportunities for rural transporters. By creating visibility of potential freight jobs, transporters are able to earn a more stable income and increase their monthly earning potential.
Tusker’s business model has the potential to disrupt the way wholesalers reach rural markets and the way rural consumers obtain access to products. It provides a service which is economically viable based on dynamic pricing, reliable and professional – three factors that are currently missing in the rural freight transportation sector. This is attributable to the fact that Tusker:
- Leverages existing transport and infrastructure by crowdsourcing people who own and maintain (registered) vehicles, and enterprises that have the capacity to store goods whilst they are in transit
- Uses data science and software to analyse demand for rural deliveries and accurately assign them to transporters that have spare capacity and are in close promixity - all in real time
- Creates professional jobs for transporters by providing a mobile application that gives transporters visibility of potential jobs, the amount they are earning and ratings from their customers - all in real time.
- Generates data as its transporters geo stamp each delivery, enabling Tusker to build a database of customers and demand parterns, which will be invaluable not only for Tusker as it scales, but also for organisations who are trying to service rural consumers
With SF’s support, Tusker now plans to scale-up their business through the launch of an ‘auction-based’ service on their mobile app to create a marketplace between transporters and customers. Using their mobile phone, transporters will have the opportunity to bid for a delivery and customers will be able to select which transporter to use based on price, delivery time and customer ratings.
Tusker has engaged with 1,000 customers across 379 villages covering the whole of the Dharwad District in Karnataka, India to pilot their solution. Within 15 months 600+ transporters joined the network and 5,393 deliveries were made. As well as experiencing significant demand for their service, Tusker developed strong operational capacity – managing to deliver 95% of deliveries on time, and providing same-day delivery – a service previously not available to rural communities. Back to Sustainable Mobility