Delivering possibilities

The landscape of Philippine logistics industry has changed for the better with the entry of on-demand delivery apps. At the height of the coronavirus lockdown, when economic activity came to a grinding halt, the service became the necessity for survival — delivering vital goods to scared Filipinos, helping businesses, particularly the small ones, survive the uncertain times and providing a steady source of income to a number of drivers in key cities nationwide.

People say that finding purpose and fulfillment allows one to be more effective in their role. Personally, I don't think I would have been able to fulfill my role well if not for these and a great team.

Everyone was blindsided by the COVID-19 pandemic. I remember having to sit down with our management team to prepare for the worst and set up all possible contingencies in place for our employees, our partner drivers, and for the businesses we serve. At the back of my mind, I knew how big of a responsibility we had to the people who rely on us, and that we needed to make sure that all decisions prioritized their well-being. Needless to say, I've never felt a heavier weight on my shoulders but I sought strength in the fact that we had a great management team and a fantastic group of teammates whose unified mission is the empowerment of the communities we serve — we were all in this together.

When the community quarantine of cities and provinces across the country was announced by the government, everyone went on a frenzy. Long lines at grocery stores and drugstores, panic-buying in malls to stock up on household items made the paranoia and fear about what's to come personally and professionally very apparent. Various industries and businesses were scrambling to figure out how they will adapt to everything that's going on. On our side of the field, we needed to stay focused on the things that matter, adapt to change and face the challenges head-on.

As an on-demand logistics company, our challenge sounded simple — continue providing services on our platform while keeping our partner drivers and clients safe from the virus. Our challenge was to find solutions, endlessly. At the onset of the enhanced community quarantine, orders skyrocketed and our active drivers plummeted. Everyone was struggling to stock their homes with enough supplies as we ventured into the unknown, businesses had to shift their channels online; while a huge chunk of our partner drivers feared for theirs and their family's well-being and opted to stay home instead of being on the frontline.

Endless challenges came up. How do we keep our partner drivers safe? How do we help our business clients who need us now more than ever? How do we fulfill delivery orders? How do we secure the jobs of our employees? The list goes on. 

We were constantly on call as we solved one issue after the other. While working from home was possible given that we are an internet-based company, it wasn't an easy shift. Coordination with hundreds of team members to look after their safety, but also to ensure that we got things done was a challenge in itself. 

We pushed daily safety reminders to our partner drivers as we looked out for their welfare because, after all, they are the core of our business. We implemented new policies like contactless and cashless deliveries. Clients had to be regularly reminded that we prioritize essential goods when we move items. 

The support from the government really helped us sustain our business during the community quarantine. Online business was encouraged and with that came an endorsement to use platforms such as ours. Rapid passes were given to our Lalamove partner drivers and our platform functioned as an essential tool for every business and household in Metro Manila and Cebu. It took us a while to cope and normalize our operations because of the uncertainties on the road, but it wouldn't have been possible without the support of the government. 

We knew it was our civic duty to help numerous non-government organizations (NGOs), companies, and organizations with their donations to frontliners. As a company that was fortunate enough to survive the economic impact of the pandemic, we wanted to pay it forward and do our part in quelling the pandemic by helping move donations to hospitals and the Department of Health (DOH) facilities. 

We wanted to help as many people as possible, and our partner drivers were more than happy to support frontliners, businesses and households. Despite having close to a hundred thousand drivers, we still had many communities to serve. 

This thought triggered our partnership with the Quezon City local government to onboard displaced jeepney drivers to our platform. We were very excited to see LalaJeep happen. It's been an inside joke with my friends, that there will come a time, every type of vehicle will be part of Lalamove — a LalaPlane soon enough. 

Ruben Lopez, one of the jeepney drivers who signed up for the project, shared with us his appreciation and how LalaJeep came at the perfect time. After three months of no income from transporting people, his delivery earnings help keep food on his family's table. This aspect of our work is what makes it all worthwhile.

Things have definitely created a new normal for Lalamove and its communities. Now that we have shifted our business to best serve our employees, partner drivers, and clients; we now move into planning how we can support everyone's new normal: how Lalamove can deliver more possibilities faster.

This is our way forward, and once things get better and the pandemic is eradicated, there is beauty in having been able to adapt, survive, and see multiple ways to pivot.

More and more people appreciate the importance of on-demand delivery services. Back then, it was a luxury for some to have items delivered to their doorstep on the same day. But during the enhanced community quarantine, it became a necessity for survival. I personally believe that there's no going back on how things used to be, but there is always a way forward. 

Traditional or in-store businesses were left with no choice but to shift online and deliver their goods, while some people who have lost employment found an opportunity in being a partner driver. 

This is our way forward, and once things get better and the pandemic is eradicated, there is beauty in having been able to adapt, survive, and see multiple ways to pivot.

These traditional businesses will then have two channels to sell: online and in-store, and these new partner drivers may go back to regular employment but will still have an additional source of income through deliveries. 

As we continuously improve our delivery services, we want to show how our platform can help local businesses grow. We're here to elevate small and medium-sized entrepreneurs and show them that moving up their business is possible. 

We're here to continuously provide opportunities to earn for new partner drivers through our online onboarding to prepare for the big surge that the new normal brings.

We are very confident that our company will be even stronger as the landscape of delivery changes. As we enter the new normal, Lalamove will be there to deliver possibilities faster.


Edited by Rica Delfinado

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