Innovative logistics solutions for SMEs
Najihah S 
Centrolene’s fully business-to-business integrated software is a back-end system that will assist freight companies to manage scheduling, quotation as well as customers’ feedback at a click of a button
SMEs are seen as integral players in e-commerce and logistics. Due to its size, SMEs are more agile when it comes to dealing with logistics issues compared to multinational corporations (MNCs).

However, budget limitations can cause an SME to opt for a subpar system for its logistics needs. Understanding the gap that is seen in the industry, three solution providers are offering SMEs the technological tools that will ensure an increase in efficiency.

As an agent between importer and exporter, forwarding companies play an important role in the business landscape. This is where a company such as German-based Centrolene Solutions is seen as an advocate for many SMEs that are operating as forwarders.

Centrolene’s fully business-to-business (B2B) integrated software is a back-end system that will assist freight companies to manage scheduling, quotation as well as customers’ feedback at a click of a button. The system, which is said to be the first of its kind in the supply chain management industry, can also be catered to manufacturers and retailers.

Lim says Centrolene began getting clients from Malaysia since last year

According to Centrolene Asia regional director, Loreal Lim, there are a few factors why SMEs are still implementing archaic systems.

“Most of the SMEs are always delaying in adopting new technology because they have this mindset where they think the systems would be expensive. However, they are forgetting that new customers would want something that is up-to-date. And because some of them belong to the family business category, they prefer to do things the old way.

“Some companies are changing its ways since the business is being continued by the second generation. They are starting to rebrand themselves and retain the customers,” Lim.

B2B forwarding solution

She explains that Centrolene has also worked on exploring how regional SMEs operate and the software that they developed is aligned with the SME ecosystem.

“We had to look into how local forwarders are taking up changes. The [Centrolene] system will be able find the solution that is catered specifically with what the company needs,” Lim adds.

Centrolene’s regional office, which is based in Singapore, has been servicing companies in Malaysia and in addition to providing customised forwarding solutions, a training module will also be done for companies that have purchased the software.

“We realise many SMEs do not see employee training as an integral part of its operations. This is why free training for employees is provided when a company purchases our software,” she says.

When asked about the price range for its products, Lim reveals that they cost some US$2,000 (RM8,560) onwards depending on the package needed by an SME.

Centolene’s software that is customised for SMEs comes in four areas, which are customer relationship management, reporting function, procurement and marketing.

Convenient shipping solutions

Centrolene, which began servicing clients in Malaysia last year, targets to triple its clientele by year-end.

There are various factors when it comes to selecting the right freight partner for your products to be carried inbound or outbound. Not only safety of the products should be taken into consideration, the lead time taken should be the main factor when choosing the suitable freight forwarder.

Traditionally, freight forwarding companies discuss the transportation details with their clients in person or through correspondences.

Seeing that the process can be time-consuming, especially when it comes to request for quotations, Alex Cheong, founder of Web2ship, wants to create something that will expedite the process. Its website provides a shipping solution for online sellers as well as individuals who are looking to ship their products in small quantities.

Cheong created Web2Ship based on his background in the supply chain management industry

Cheong explains that companies that are bringing or sending products just need to go through a simple process of keying in the shipping information required on Web2ship and it will list the services available together with the rates and estimated delivery time. Once the option is selected, the company can make the payment online and wait for the goods to arrive.

He started the online shipping solution in 2007. It now has about 4,000 registered users in Malaysia, Thailand and China.

Cheong, who was an e-commerce education specialist, admits that it is a high investment business but he managed to fund the business on his own.

With its current customer portfolio, the company managed to attract investors. It is also working with channel partners such as DHL, Aramex and Pos Malaysia.

Thriving postage collection solution

Collectco Services Sdn Bhd, which is a network of collection centres, offers parcel delivery and collection services. Collectco is relatively a newcomer in the business.

Customers may drop off their parcels at Collectco’s collection centres when they are not available to wait for any courier service to pick up the parcels from their doorsteps.

Wong says Collectco aims to go regional

Capitalising from e-commerce growth in Malaysia, Dylan Wong started Collectco last year. He wanted to provide convenience and hassle-free solutions to online sellers and their customers. Collectco managed to stay ahead in the game as it improves its operational control and processes using powerful technology.

It has also set up more collection points to cover more locations in a short span. To-date, it has more than 800 collection centres in the Klang Valley and Johor.

“We have signed up more than 800 points to-date. They are specially selected and trained to provide the best customer service for collection, send and return services. The points are located strategically in all major shopping centres, universities campuses, condominiums and major high streets.

“We have onboarded almost all the major marketplaces including Lazada, Lelong, Zalora and many others, consisting of more than 15,000 merchants. We are growing rapidly on a month-to-month basis.

Collection points

Its collection points include Mydin, Senheng, Caring Pharmacy, Fotokem, Happy Mart and CNI. Collection point partners receive a commission for the service.

Collectco also works with logistics companies SnT, Line Clear and SkyNet, as well as electronic payment service providers such as ePay and iPay88.

“Our strategies to promote the service include marketing and promotion through our business partners such as retail chains and online merchants, digital marketing such as social media, Google and YouTube ads, and physical marketing via our network of collection points,” Wong adds.

Collectco plans to set up a collection point within 1km to people in every major town and cities.

In the longer term, Collectco aims to penetrate the Asean market where it is looking at establishing partnerships in these markets.

With its fast-growing collection points and good partnerships established, Collectco has managed to secure RM500,000 in fund from Cradle Fund in April.

This article first appeared in Focus Malaysia Issue 244.