Online marketplace for hiring trucks is becoming popular in Bangladesh, lowering trading costs and making business globally competitive as well, said industry insiders.
Many mobile app-based new-generation IT start-ups have grown in the past few years, although apparently not reaching profitability in some cases.
Yet the trade grew amid sluggish economic activity, changing the country's transportation and logistics dras
A Dhaka-based logistics app GIM (Goods in Motion) has already created quite a stir in the goods transportation market of Bangladesh.
Since the floatation of an idea in early 2018 and its eventual launch in mid-2019, GIM has been changing the tradition of the market.
"Our goal has been to increase usage of idle resources by breaking down operational silos and enabling direct shipper-to-carrier communication," said GIM founder and managing director Alamgir Alvi.
"This is helping organisations champion operational efficiency and better customer experience," he added.
Within six months, more than 10,000 trucks and 6,000 drivers have been registered with a staggering 90,000-tonne capacity.
The service facilitated thousands of trips per month for a wide range of customers entailing uplift projects and corporates like Lafarge, ACI and Abul Khair.
In less than a year, GIM set its footprint in 61 districts with corporate headquarters in Dhaka and regional offices in Chittagong, Khulna and Bogura, providing service countrywide.
Apart from access to trips, resolving cash flow and insurance issues, it plans to bring banks, financial institutions and insurance service under an ecosystem.
With this end in view, the company has already signed up with key partners like City Bank, IDLC, bKash and SSL Wireless.
GIM chairman Rajibul Haq Chowdhury said, "Our planning largely focuses on key challenges regarding goods transportation where we can assist and find solutions that stand highest in impact."
"The rest has been about finding the right partners for maximum outreach," he commented.
Initiatives like this not only help the logistics sector to be competitive on a global scale, but also help the truck operators' community contribute to socio-economic growth, Mr Chowdhury said.
Another leading local truck-hiring hub is 'Truck Lagbe' having a significant impact on the market.
Launched in 2017 with only 25 vehicles, Truck Lagbe is now one of the largest online truck-booking platforms.
Truck Lagbe chief executive officer Anayet Rashid said although the Covid-19 pandemic hit the truck-hiring service, it has started to fight back now.
His company provides a one-stop solution to all logistic problems for businesses.
"We spot the pain points of our clients when it comes to their logistics and try to cater to their needs in accordance with their requirements," said Mr Rashid.
Currently, Truck Lagbe has more than 50,000 registered drivers and 150,000 listed customers.
According to the Global Logistics Performance Index-2018, Bangladesh was way behind India and Sri Lanka (Bangladesh 100th, India 44th and Sri Lanka 94th among 160 countries).
Still being largely an informal sector, Bangladesh can significantly improve its logistics ecosystem.
According to a World Bank report, "A 17-per cent decrease in logistics cost will increase Bangladesh's RMG (ready-made garments) export by 7.4 per cent or almost $4 billion."
Innovation in technology can accelerate the improvement process in logistics dramatically, it cited.
Realising the potential, Mr Alvi, also a former BUET faculty and a US-based tech leader, initiated to connect the dots to ensure better usage of resources with cutting-edge technology and operating models.
But it was not always so easy a task.
According to Mr Rashid, convincing truck drivers to get involved in such platforms was very difficult.
If they would train 100 drivers for the app, he said, 75 used to leave. But it is easier than before.
"Now truck owners, drivers and businessmen, who take the service, are convinced that online platforms are good for stakeholders."