Delivery service booming amid pandemic

Richmond Mercurio - The Philippine Star
Delivery service booming amid pandemic
Companies like Grab, Lalamove and J&T Express have seen their brands turn into household names as they became the go-to partners of businesses and customers alike during this ongoing health crisis.
Philstar.com / File

MANILA, Philippines — Delivery service companies in the country have been riding high since the onset of the pandemic, expanding their services and operations to meet the growing demand of customers and businesses.

Companies like Grab, Lalamove and J&T Express have seen their brands turn into household names as they became the go-to partners of businesses and customers alike during this ongoing health crisis.

To keep up with the boom, these companies have stepped on the gas to beef up their operations.

Grab Philippines country marketing head RJ Cabaluna said the company has made significant investments in technology this year to keep communities safe and provide a more seamless and convenient experience in using its platform.

“We have made significant tech investments in our GrabProtect program to ensure that our drivers, merchant partners, and customers are safe from the risks of COVID-19 through the tech features and innovations on our app,” Cabaluna told The STAR.

Cabaluna said Grab has onboarded displaced workers as delivery partners on its platform, providing them with means of livelihood, while helping serve more customers who are staying at home.

It has likewise brought in this year more merchant partners across GrabFood, GrabMart, GrabExpress, and GrabPay to provide customers with greater convenience and a wider selection.

“The pandemic has accelerated greater reliance on digital services, contributing to the growth in our delivery and e-payments services,” Cabaluna said.

Delivery and e-payment services have proven to be vital in continuously driving Grab’s business in the country given that the lockdowns have impacted its transport operations, according to Cabaluna.

“We are fortunate to have a business and a platform that is both agile and resilient - and this has enabled us to be nimble enough to continuously serve our customers, merchant partners, and driver-partners despite the pandemic,” he said.

J&T Express, an Indonesian logistics company which started operations in the Philippines in March last year,  also aggressively expanded its operations this year, hiring more people and expanding its fleet and network.

“Evidently, the service we have is surprisingly in demand this year brought about by the current global health crisis wherein people are restricted to go out and have their essentials ordered through online platforms. Through this growing number of customers, we expand our network by hiring more employees and opening more branches nationwide,” J&T Express vice president Zoe Chi told The STAR.

The company currently has 20,000 employees and almost 600 branches nationwide, with its expansion continuing.

“Due to the increasing delivery demand, our fleet has been expanding as well. We have partnered with Foton, Isuzu and Hino in order to meet these demands,” Chi said.

“There are a lot of developments provided for customer’s convenience through online shopping. And as the e-commerce industry grows, digital logistics also follows. With that, as we promise, we are keen in developing our resources as well to cater the growing demand of the country,” Chi said.

On-demand courier service Lalamove, for its part, has tripled the number of its driver partners since the start of the year, according to the firm’s PR and partnerships lead John Carlo Alarcon.

The company was supposed to expand its service to Pampanga early this year, but was hampered by the pandemic. The launch is expected to push through next year.

At the onset of the pandemic, Alarcon said the number of orders Lalamove has received doubled, with more people turning to the platform for their various delivery needs.

“We have expanded our business units for a bigger team because there is more needed work from us. Right now we are aggressively getting more drivers so that we can cater to all these supply problems,” Alarcon told The STAR.

“Since the start of the pandemic, everyone saw the value of same day delivery. Before, I’m not saying we’re taken for granted, but the value of apps such as Lalamove, they were overlooked. But since the pandemic happened, people learned that these apps are present here to make our lives easier, “ he said.

Founded in Hong Kong in 2013, Lalamove launched its operations in the Philippines in 2016, catering to the delivery needs of local businesses and customers through an array of fleet that include motorcycles, SUVs, vans and L300s.

“Basically, we can only measure our growth size through our clients. A lot of businesses already use Lalamove. A lot of day-to-day customers trust Lalamove to deliver their goods. Our goal for next year is actually to onboard more business as much as possible,” Alarcon said.

Both J&T and Grab have also set their sights for growth next year, with the need for their services not expected to slow down anytime soon.

Chi said J&T Express is considering providing its services for cross border e-commerce, and is also eyeing to open more branches to be able to serve more communities and improve the service quality standard for the industry.

Grab, meanwhile, said it would continue to leverage its technology to help drive socio-economic recovery through digitalization not just in Metro Manila, but to more cities and provinces.

“Likewise, we will continue to build on our strong foundation of helping small businesses and social sellers better reach their customers through technology, digitalization, and cashless payments,” Cabaluna said.

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