Exploring e-logistics during slowdown

Mr Ken Ngan, managing director of GLE Logistics, said his firm is looking at new markets and the fast-growing e-commerce sector.
Mr Ken Ngan, managing director of GLE Logistics, said his firm is looking at new markets and the fast-growing e-commerce sector.ST PHOTO: DESMOND FOO

Slowing trade and sliding factory activity have hit GLE Logistics but the company is not sitting idle.

Managing director Ken Ngan said the firm, which specialises in supply chain logistics for manufacturers and traders, is now also venturing into the fast-growing e-commerce sector.

"This slow period is a good time for us to explore new business areas," said Mr Ngan.

The company has seen a 30 per cent drop in its Singapore business this year. The domestic market makes up about 35 per cent of its sales - a share that was larger before this year's poor performance.

The slowdown here has prompted the company to shift its focus to other markets in the region, said Mr Ngan.

"We have matured in places like Malaysia and Vietnam - we've diversified our shipping hubs there to keep costs low and compete internationally," he said.

While new business from the region has helped to cushion the drop in volumes domestically, Mr Ngan said the company is still keen to do more, particularly in the e-commerce space.

"Our business has traditionally relied heavily on manufacturers and exporters, but we're looking at a new pool of customers - end consumers who shop online," he said.

The company started its foray into e-commerce about two months ago.

"Even though volumes for e-commerce are still very small compared with our traditional business, we see long-term potential," Mr Ngan added.

To this end, the company has hired more staff, including a few "young people who have bright ideas about e-logistics".

It is also investing in technology to meet evolving customer demands - for instance, providing more visibility and real-time tracking of shipments.

"Things are slower now but there's no point crying over spilt milk. It's a good time to do some housekeeping," he added.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 12, 2015, with the headline 'Exploring e-logistics during slowdown'. Print Edition | Subscribe