How This Start-up is Targeting Malaysia’s Last Mile
Zoom shares why taking the time to train their riders is paying off
PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images
During his career in the marketing and branding industry, Jeevan Jayakumar, now the CEO of Malaysia’s Zoom, felt that most founders did not think about the last mile when building their business models.
“In my opinion, most entrepreneurs, specifically in the e-commerce industry, suffer from the inability to fulfill their brand promise of delivering items to their client on time, and this was where I thought we could be very valuable,” Jayakumar says. “This way entrepreneurs can focus on enhancing their product or service without worrying about complaints of late deliveries.”
Jayakumar differentiates Zoom from other last-mile providers not only in their technology, which includes proprietary last mile software and a back-end system that allows vendors to integrate under 24 hours, but in how they treat their riders.
Jayakumar says it has become common practice in the industry for drivers to receive little training and low wages. In contrast, Zoom tries to invest more in its riders.
“We also describe to them how they can progress with Zoom as a rider — from a rider, to rider team leader, to rider manager — to keep them motivated and ambitious,” says Jayakumar, noting that this journey begins with an extensive 2-week training and continues through monthly team-building activities.
As a B2B2C business, Zoom’s customers are mostly e-commerce merchants and landed vendors, such as restaurants and specialty stores, that need to deliver their products to customers.
“Early on, we decided to spend most of our marketing budget on training our Zoomers and creating a great platform to serve our customers better, [which resulted in our customers introducing us to other customers]. This has worked out well for us as it has kept our cost of customer acquisition relatively low with a high net promoter score,” says Jayakumar.
He believes the biggest challenge in scaling Zoom is maintaining their service-level agreements (SLA) with clients, especially after observing that some start-ups fail to properly cope with their growth. Zoom thus takes a tiered approach to the scaling.
“We will normally have clients in the pipeline that we deliver a portion of their total deliveries while they get used to working with Zoom and our software. [This] will also give us the time to hire and train more riders and account executives for client relations. Upon the clients satisfaction with our SLA, we will slowly scale the numbers with them,” he says.
According to Jayakumar, this approach makes both Zoom and their clients more comfortable with the transition, rather than trying to obtain their entire volume through discounts and other incentives.
“The vendors are also business-minded just like us and they understand the cost of doing business. Their primary concern is to ensure that all their products are delivered fast and in the same condition that it was given to us,” he says.
After winning both the Startup of the Year in the Malaysian Rice Bowl Awards in 2017 and the same award at the regional level, Jayakumar has big plans for the company in 2018. In addition to adding features, such as the ability to track cash on delivery, he wants to extend support to freelance riders, expand to Penang and Johor locally, and open in Jakarta and Bangkok.
He advises other founders in Southeast Asia to be customer-centric at all times.
“Even if you have a huge staff force — in Zoom we have more than 100 — and lots of investments or attention, always work towards serving your customers better. That's how you stay relevant to your customers. Don't get distracted by the time, instead work towards being the best solution for your customers' problem,” he says.