Trax is a Karachi-headquartered B2B logistics startup focusing on e-commerce fulfillment. So whether you have an Instagram handle selling something or want to create a digital footprint of your family business, these guys have a solution for you.
Be it the typical cash-on-delivery service or the last mile, the startup lets you do it all using its web portal, Sonic. Get in touch, tell your requirements to get a tailor-made quote and once you have the credentials for the system, book your order from there and then track the location at each stage until it is with the customer.
The startup has a fleet of 300 riders plus a few trucks and containers to manage bulk movement both intra- and inter-city, with operations spanning from Karachi to Peshawar.
It is the brainchild of Muhammad Hassan Khan – an entrepreneur who has previously founded and sold another B2B logistics startup by the name of Stallion Delivery – and Asad Abdulla, a whose family owns the IBL Group, the conglomerate behind brands like Searle Company and Habitt. Trax launched operations in July 2017 with cash injection from the parent company and has since then scaled to a team of more than 400 people.
“We felt that the logistics space had ample room for disruption and by that time, the idea of peer-to-peer model had taken root in Pakistan thanks to the likes of Careem and Uber. These factors convinced us to enter this arena,” recalls Abdulla. “Initially we relied on IBL’s tech department to save on costs but soon after hired an in-house team which gave us the freedom to experiment and pivot as required,” adds Khan.
While the company boasts some big names like Gul Ahmed and Diner’s as clients, its focus is instead on the smaller online retailers, from a largely unknown handicrafts seller in Dadu doing business through Instagram or other social media channels to a small website catering to a specific niche.
“Many of these small sellers have a very loyal base of customers and often keep an in-house fleet to ensure smooth deliveries. We are trying to get those on board and are adding new services to cater to their needs. For example, we have a try-and-buy option in the pipeline, which is an attractive offering for fashion brands whose customers need to first check the product before making the purchase. Then there is 360 degree e-commerce platform,” says the CEO.
Although, the idea was to start as a logistics startup focusing on e-commerce, Trax has since expanded its wings. In fact, just a few weeks ago they launched a warehousing facility along with an Omnichannel management system, again targeting small retailers.
At the moment, everything is done on their web system, but the startup has been trying to make the switch to cell phones. So how far have they come at each step of the business?
“To start with, there is the first mile [movement of goods from a production facility to a warehouse] for which we just rolled out an app. Then the supply chain involving our containers and trucks, all installed with trackers to monitor their real-time movement. As for the last mile, [from warehouse to the end customer] we are working to replicate the mobile application,” explains Khan.
“As for [Careem-style] live-tracking, we have it for the first two stages and is available to shippers and would be developing it once the last-mile app is ready, so eventually the end customers can locate the exact position of their order/rider,” he adds.
Let’s turn our attention towards the overall industry now. Firstly there are the household names, most notably the TCS and to a lesser extent, Leopard and M&P, which have been in the business for longer than I can recall. Then there is an emerging breed of young startups, such as Forrun, rnnr or even Xoop who are also trying to tap on to the country’s growing e-commerce sector. In such an area, how does Trax plan to navigate its way through?
“I think the organisational culture of legacy companies is not particularly suitable for this tech-enabled business and it’s our agility that sets us apart,” says Abdulla. “As compared to the newcomers, Trax is backed by IBL, allowing it to leverage its countrywide distribution network which gives us a huge edge,” he adds.
“But given how rapidly the e-commerce sector is growing [93 per cent last year], we are already hitting our capacity, so there is always room for more players,” says Khan.