When it comes to managing the “last mile,” many retailers find themselves overwhelmed with consumer expectations and the complexities that continue to increase.
Abasto spoke with Rohan Duggal, tech founder of EpiFruit, an on-demand digital platform that is helping brick-and-mortar retailers increase sales by electing to offer cheaper, more convenient delivery options – mitigating the “last mile logistics.”
“It’s a third-party platform. It is a company that facilitates a market where retailers and businesses in New York can have instant access to couriers for either internal needs or for deliveries to their customers… Businesses and retailers can come on to my platform and select who their delivery guy is, their preferences, price, ratings, distance, distance between driver and location and location of the pickup and a few other things like that. It’s basically allowing businesses in New York to outsource their deliveries in a potentially cheaper and more efficient way,” said founder Duggal about Epifruit.
Duggal and his family own four wine shops in Manhattan. As a shop owner, Duggal has struggled with constant delivery issues that he claims only continue to grow more and more each year.
“On any given day, I could add about 40 deliveries in a 20-block radius. Now when it comes to deliveries, nothing is necessarily predictable. You have an idea as far as timing, so for instance, at my shop, I know between 5 and 10, I’m going to get a lot of deliveries and before that I’m not going to get packed with a ton of deliveries, but you don’t know exactly where the deliveries are coming from. So logistically, it’s very difficult to coordinate that as far as the most efficient route,” he explained.
With third-party demand platforms that are available for restaurants, such as Grubhub, Caviar, Drizly and Minibar, the third-party become retailers themselves because they have the ability to determine who gets the jobs. This makes the retailer constantly need delivery guys available in their shops, which is costly for the retailer.
Duggal went into depth about how as the minimum wage rises in New York ($15 next year), including filing fees, payroll tax, general liabilities, insurance, disability insurance, the total cost of doing a 20-block radius delivery for example, would be $16.41 for a restaurant.
EpiFruit platform fits retailers’ needs
“What that means is the minimums of these deliveries are going to have to go up… So, with the minimums going up, you’re going to lose customers, because people are going to say, ‘it’s just cheaper for me to walk across the street’ or ‘I’ve been a customer at this shop for 20 years and now they’re charging me $75’… You’re going to lose customers.
You’re not going to be able to even expand outside of your boundaries. Ultimately, you’re going to be confined to a 5-block radius as a retailer and that’s where you’re going to live.”
Duggal explained that it’s for this very reason and these overwhelming dilemmas that he created his EpiFruit platform in the first place.
“The only way a retailer can compete with a big box like that is ultimately being able to provide same hour delivery. Now that’s what this app is all about. I’m creating an atmosphere where as a retailer, you have the ability to connect with people within a 20-block radius that are willing to do deliveries for you at potentially a cheaper rate and they’ll be within blocks of you, so they can go in and out of the store pretty fast, just as if they were working there and more importantly, there’s open transparency,” said Duggal.
Duggal assures that it’s one size fits all with Epifruit because the platform is for whatever the retailer’s needs are. Through the app, the retailer can choose what it is they want delivered and what they’re willing to spend, with all the bids of people who want the job within a 20-block radius coming back to the retailer. The retailer than simply chooses based off their preference of distance, speed, ratings, etc.
“I created EpiFruit because I’m a retailer in New York, I understand the pinpoints of it, I understand what the needs of a retailer are… I wasn’t looking for a solution just to survive, but to thrive… You have to be able to meet customers at their convenience because everybody now wants something at the click of a button and if you can’t provide that for them, then they are going to go elsewhere.”
Duggal emphasized that everything is built on convenience and “that’s what this business model is built around.”