It’s 2:38 p.m. You’re sitting on your couch, rescheduling yet another afternoon meeting, still waiting for that mattress that was supposed to arrive between 8:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. You call the store where you purchased it, and the call center rep tells you the truck is on its way. The rep encourages you to check the status online or call the delivery company directly. You look on your phone: “06:42 a.m.: Departed from [insert vaguely recognizable town name] Distribution Center.” Next you call the delivery company, and the receptionist says, “We’ll reach out to the driver. They'll be in touch with you soon.”
At the same moment, that driver you’re anxiously awaiting is parked in front of someone else’s house, trying one last time to connect with his dispatcher and the customer. He’s lived this chain of events before: yet another unbillable delivery attempt, another lost hour, another round trip during which he’ll have to worry about damaging the item, another frustrated call from the customer and another retailer who will blame him and his team for running late. But in reality, there was no way he and his crew could have been on time given their unrealistic delivery schedule that day.
After experiencing and then investigating last-mile deliveries like this one, Satish Natarajan and Shailu Satish decided to take action. The couple, who grew up in India and met as graduate computer science students at Ole Miss, spent a weekend in their eventually-furnished Silicon Valley home developing a platform that would help merchants and delivery service providers provide a best-in-class delivery experience. They prototyped the product, tested early versions with the salesman who sold them their furniture and then hired that salesman to start pitching SaaS platforms instead of hand-crafted credenzas. DispatchTrack was born.
Over the next nine years, without outside funding, the founders turned their prototype into a powerful and innovative platform. With DispatchTrack, consumers schedule deliveries online or in stores for times that work for them; dynamic routing applications produce optimal routes for hundreds of thousands of orders each night, all within a matter of minutes. Automated text and email communications confirm delivery windows and collect feedback on delivery team performance at the home, and drivers receive auditable, photographic proof of delivery and billing automation.
Moreover, DispatchTrack serves as critical connective tissue, enabling merchants to gather live and historical information on delivery activities from start to finish. This solves the problem of merchants losing sight of products after they leave the warehouse and being disconnected from the customer’s delivery experience. This capacity is especially complex and impressive given the highly fragmented regional networks of third-party logistics providers (3PLs) that shippers rely on to fulfill big and bulky last-mile deliveries.
With these powerful capabilities and the inherent network effects created by the platform’s role as a real-time system of record for the delivery process, DispatchTrack grew quickly by word of mouth and gained new accounts of increasing numbers and sizes and across increasingly broad last-mile delivery use cases. Today, the company supports more than 1,100 customer accounts ranging in size from sole proprietorships with one truck to global enterprises with thousands of trucks and hundreds of contractors. These customers span across Asia, the Americas and Europe, and they represent some of the world’s leading companies in industries like furniture, appliances, building materials, food and beverage, restaurants, grocery, third-party logistics, and field and home services.
DispatchTrack’s effectiveness is manifest in the way customers use and advocate for the platform as a strategically critical component of their operations. DispatchTrack’s customers retain at exceptionally high levels with very little account churn, and the company has achieved net revenue expansion across existing accounts every year since its inception. Many of DispatchTrack’s customers report that their entire company – sometimes including hundreds of employees in stores or the back-offices across sales, support, finance, and operations – uses the platform on a regular basis. In phone interviews we conducted with DispatchTrack customers, company leaders described the platform as a game changer for operations and customer experience. Every day, DispatchTrack helps these businesses orchestrate tens of thousands of automated text or email communications with their customers, save hundreds of thousands of time-stamped and geolocated photos through the DispatchTrack mobile app, and offer the end-to-end delivery experience that Satish and Shailu could only dream of years ago.
Today, we at Spectrum Equity are excited to announce our partnership with Satish, Shailu and DispatchTrack. Theirs is a remarkable entrepreneurial story, and we see DispatchTrack at the nexus of multiple trends and themes that we’ve watched closely in commerce, logistics and technology.
Specifically, merchants and logistics providers can no longer afford to treat last-mile delivery like a post-purchase operational process or cost center. While Capgemini indicates costs incurred in last-mile delivery service account for an impressive 41% of all supply chain costs , the financial benefits of optimizing last-mile operations only represent a piece of the opportunity. There is immense strategic value in having a best-in-class solution for delivering that final, personal experience in the customer journey. Also, across an increasing number of product categories and industries, businesses simply cannot succeed in the 21st century unless they embrace the last mile as a core part of the customer experience. It’s essential to consistently meet rising consumer expectations for timely and transparent deliveries, what many have described as the “Amazon effect.”
Despite the broad need for last-mile solutions, the marketplace has not provided fixes that have universally or consistently solved the problems. For example, many businesses have focused on optimizing smaller-format parcel deliveries and the on-demand economy for rides or meals. But optimization has not in general meant profitability, nor has it solved the most complex problems in those product categories. In contrast, large-format and scheduled deliveries that require installation, service, controlled storage, entry into homes or businesses, proof of receipt or other coordination with recipients present complex and costly operational challenges that technology vendors have not addressed. These are difficult problems to solve, but the rewards for achieving visibility and coordination in these cases can be particularly meaningful. High-touch last-mile deliveries often offer upsell or branding opportunities that merchants miss out on when they hand off that last critical customer experience to 3PLs that haven’t yet adopted a platform that provides real-time visibility.
Simultaneously, cloud-based and mobile technologies have reached new levels of capability and omnipresence. It’s now possible to solve problems that historically prevented efficient and dynamic delivery planning and execution, as well as end-to-end visibility across merchants, logistics providers and delivery recipients. This is especially true in logistics, with so many fleets and warehouses still running on AS/400 systems, and in a highly fragmented landscape of specialized regional providers that focus on last-mile delivery services. Furthermore, many of those providers have been slow to adopt technology given the prohibitive cost of traditional software, new products’ lack of interoperability with legacy systems and scarce technical resources.
Against that backdrop, DispatchTrack stands out as a powerful, proven solution offering a highly configurable, cloud-based, multi-tenant SaaS platform that includes intuitive mobile apps for drivers, clean APIs, robust POS, OMS, WMS and TMS integrations, a multi-party system of record that merchants and 3PLs rely on, and automated customer communications. Across industries and use cases, DispatchTrack provides a truly transformational ability to optimize and visualize delivery network performance, enabling the great experiences customers have come to expect.
Satish, Shailu and the rest of the DispatchTrack team have built an impressive business, and we believe the road ahead presents exciting opportunities for continued growth. Specifically, we look forward to partnering closely with Satish and Shailu to help the company develop new products, expand its global customer footprint, address additional delivery use cases, scale operations and build partnerships.
In the future, we envision a world in which even the most complex deliveries – whether to businesses or consumers – are planned and executed efficiently, tracked and communicated about in real-time and completed in ways that exceed recipients’ expectations. We see DispatchTrack becoming an industry-leading platform and a central hub of real-time and historical information that extends beyond order and delivery data, offering end-to-end visibility and operational tools for merchants and delivery service providers alike. In short, we see a world in which businesses across categories rise to the standards consumers are growing to expect. We see a world powered by DispatchTrack.
As this unfolds, we couldn’t be more delighted to partner with Satish, Shailu and the rest of the DispatchTrack team.
For more information on DispatchTrack and Spectrum Equity's growth investment, please read the press release.