Mahindra, the India HQed automotive giant, is now entering the e-commerce and logistics market, albeit, as a startup. The company has announced the launch of an online platform named SmartShift that connects cargo owners and transporters., virtually acting as an online marketplace for intracity logistics.

Interestingly, this is one of several start-ups that the company is planning to launch to tap the burgeoning e-commerce space, in multitude of niche segments.

SmartShift will act as an exchange platform for cargo owners and transporters, enabling them to work with each other. Cargo owners can access the SmartShift service through the mobile application which is currently available on Android, the website or by contacting the dedicated call centre.

The service is currently available in Mumbai only. However, the company plans to extend the service to 26 towns and cities over time. For revenues, Smartshift app charges 6 percent commission straight, from the transporter, which is automatically deducted from the account balance at the beginning of the job.

The new startup will operate as a separate business (Orizonte Business Solution Ltd) and that the Mahindra Group will invest in the company as a venture capital investor. Though the initial funding will be provided by Mahindra, the company can raise further funding from outside also.

The company, SmartShift, comes in the heavily disorganized market. Like Uber, it lets you see registered cargo transporters around you. The transporters are all vetted and verified by SmartShift. It also suggests the appropriate pricing for the cargo, lets you track and trace your goods. The company claims that the vehicle will be available at the doorstep within 15-20 minutes.

The users will be able to book a vehicle in just 3 minutes, as per the company. They will also be able to negotiate the rates through the company’s “Bid” feature. Also, there is a tracking feature so that the user can track the delivery status.

Kausalya Srinivasan, chief executive, SmartShift, said,

The need to bring in traceability and timeliness in the transport goods sector is a lot more as compared to the passenger segment. Companies such as Ola and Uber are experiencing a boom in demand for their cab services in a country where the transport infrastructure is still creaky and safe public and private commuting options are few.

Logistics has recently seen a proactive approach from a good number of startups, with decent investor money to back them as well. Such startups include Porter, Shippr, TrucksFirst, Moovo, etc. Porter had raised $5.5 million from Sequoia and others, while Trucksfirst raised $10 million from SAIF Partners and Singapore Post.

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