Mahindra & Mahindra has launched SmartShift, a platform that connects cargo owners with transporters. The platform lets users find transporters based on the cargo weight, size and other requirements, and negotiate and seal a deal to transport it. SmartShift’s services are available via the website, smartphone app and call centre.
The app works by providing three vehicle options to cargo owners on logging in, a three wheeler, a mini truck or a pick up, each with varying weight and dimensional capacities. On selecting a vehicle, details of load, destination address, payment option etc. are required to be entered. Cargo owners are not charged a service fee for using the platform, although they have to pay for the actual transport. The company claims to use a proprietary algorithm to automatically calculate the best price to transport these goods, as well as allow cargo owners to then change the price to their preference.
Interesting, registered transporters can bid either higher or lower on these prices and get the job. It’s entirely up to the cargo owner which transporter to use. Cargo owners can pay for the transport either by advance payment, cash on delivery or ‘come back payment’, which lets transporters return to a convenient time and place to collect the money. Owners can book the service up to 7 days in advance, although the bidding process only begins 20 minutes before the job hour. Finally, owners can pick a system assigned transporter if they don’t want to choose, and can rate their transporters on a scale of 1-5.
6% commission from transporters:
Instead of charging cargo owners, the platform charges a 6% commission from transporters. Since transporters can hypothetically bail after a cash on delivery for example, SmartShift requires each transporter to sign up with an m-Pesa account and hold enough money (undefined percentage of the job value + Rs 50), to actually take up a job. The company mentions that the higher the m-pesa balance, the greater the likelihood of getting a job (since higher value jobs are displayed).
Transporters can cancel a job after taking it up, however this negatively impacts their rating as well as charges them 50% of the job value in fees. To sign up, transporters need to ensure their vehicle is less than four years old and is one of the three kinds of vehicles offered. Interestingly, transporters can sign up for the platform using feature phones as well. To enable tracking for customers, transporters are required to keep their feature phones or smartphones (with GPS) at all times.
Automotive alliance: Mahindra & Mahindra has been increasingly focussing on the digital aspects of transportation. In July, the company joined the Google spearheaded Open Automotive Alliance (OAA), an alliance of vehicle manufacturers and device makers from around the world that aim to bring the Android platform to cars. It had also launched two new mobile apps called – ‘The e2o connectivity app’ and ‘Life with e2o’ along with the launch of its next generation electric car Mahindra e2o. As of now, Mahindra also offers a BlueSense app which lets customers connect their phones with their vehicles via Bluetooth.