THE e-commerce boom has helped many businesses stay afloat despite the current tough operating environment. It has not only supported retailers but also various players in the logistics space.
As e-commerce growth further accelerates, the rising demand for logistics will ensure that TheLorry continues to grow from strength to strength in the coming years.
This certainly assures Nadhir Ashafiq, co-founder and executive director of TheLorry, who struggled to find his pace in the initial days of the nation-wide movement restrictions.
“We were very pessimistic about the economy overall in the first stages of the movement control order (MCO) – we focused on survivability over everything else. However, pockets of opportunities emerged in the e-commerce segment and we made a data-driven decision to focus our attention on it,” he says.
The startup, founded in 2014, operates a logistics platform that connects individuals and corporate clients to lorry, truck and van owners in Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia.
Prior to the pandemic, TheLorry enjoyed a profitable operation in Malaysia and Singapore.
When the MCO was first implemented in March last year, the platform saw a sudden drop in its consumer business as moving services became impossible due to the movement curbs.
This forced them to pivot the business to where the opportunity arose within an area related to logistics while adapting to the new situation. With the surge in online demand for groceries at the time, TheLorry quickly launched its grocery shopping service to cater to new consumer needs.
But given the fluidity of the situation, Nadhir notes the importance of keeping an eye on what is happening to keep adapting as things change.
Fortunately for the team, its e-commerce delivery business also bloomed during this time given its partnerships with platforms such as Lazada and Shopee.
“(But) our systems, process, operations and technology were stressed-tested during this high volume period,” he admits.
The company also faced other challenges such as reduced cashflow and managing a remote workforce.
To cope, the company fundraised and trimmed its expenses. It also implemented better procedures and a more robust system to deal with the increased volume. It also received support from its investor Mavcap, which helped the team through valuable connections and advice during the pandemic.
Mavcap is an investor in TheLorry via VC funds, namely, the Axiata Digital Innovation Fund and the ECM Straits Fund.
Nonetheless, Nadhir says the company has been lucky to be able to ride on the e-commerce trend during the pandemic not just in Malaysia but also in its regional markets.
With the entire logistics industry – from warehousing, fulfilment and trucking to delivery – expected to benefit from this growth in e-commerce, TheLorry will be putting more resources into this space, especially in bulk supply chain, over the next few years.
The company has raised more than US$10mil (RM42.38mil) so far and Nadhir says TheLorry will be going to the market for its Series C funding round soon.
He expects the company to continue to post high double-digit to triple-digit growth in the next few years, supported by its initiatives and the general trend.
Nadhir also thinks there is still potential for its grocery shopping service moving forward even as the economy opens up further towards the later part of the year.
“We see that customers would be more willing to adopt online grocery shopping during and post-pandemic and therefore, we think the new services will contribute to the long-term revenue for the company,” he says.