This time around we take a look at Ninja Van, for our Startup Of The Month segment which looks at businesses within Malaysia.
You may have read it somewhere on the Internet: there is no such thing as an automatic door, just gentleman ninjas. When it comes to hassle-free delivery solutions, there is no such thing as parcels that magically appear at your doorstep, just Ninja Van.
Established in Singapore in 2014 by co-founders Lai Chang Wen, Shaun Chong and Tan Boxian, Ninja Van’s initial operations in the neighbouring country has grown its network to cover five other countries in the Southeast Asia region: the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, and here in Malaysia, spearheaded by country head Adzim Halim.
Despite his degree in Civil and Structural Engineering, and his stint at AECOM in Singapore as a consultant structural engineer, where he had the opportunity to contribute to the designing of Changi Airport Singapore’s Terminal 4, Zim still felt like something was missing in his career: “At the end of my tenure in AECOM, I was contemplating that maybe engineering isn’t for me after all. I decided I’d like to go somewhere else where I can really flourish, as a person and as a professional.”
As fate would have it, it was at the same time Zim got to know the Ninja Van team in Singapore, and in 2015, he joined as part of the operations team, despite his non-existent experience at the logistics front. Zim must have been doing something right, because within the same year, Chang Wen, Shaun and Boxian came up with the crazy idea to send Zim packing homeward bound to Malaysia, as part of the founding team for Ninja Van Malaysia.
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It was a just gamble on the founders’ part because in just four years, Zim’s infectious personable and goal-driven characters have created an encouraging environment for his 2,000-strong team, with every single one of them committing to Ninja Van’s promise as the best logistics company in Malaysia.
Today, as Ninja Van Malaysia pushes hard to offer next-day guaranteed delivery service, diving in to the next-day nationwide courier playpen, the company has also deployed just earlier this year 86 parcel offices at LRT and MRT stations throughout Klang Valley. This added service enables the millions of commuters every month to re-route their parcels to one of these offices at any train stations they happen by on a daily basis, doing away the chances of missing the delivery at home when they are out at work.
“When the Malaysian branch started off in 2015, we had to start from scratch literally. We had no vans, no warehouse – there weren’t even any employees! It was just another Singaporean counterpart and me, and we had to do the deliveries ourselves.”
What were the initial obstacles in spearheading Ninja Van Malaysia?
When the Malaysian branch started off in 2015, we had to start from scratch literally. We had no vans, no warehouse – there weren’t even any employees! It was just another Singaporean counterpart and me, and we had to do the deliveries ourselves. I still remember our first day in operation vividly: we rented a van, and we went to Lazada and picked up the parcels, up to 25 of them, and brought them back to the hotel room we were put up in at the time. The next morning, we sorted the parcels in the car park area, and split the deliveries between the two of us.
To say that it was very challenging at the start is an understatement: we made sure that we fulfil the deliveries during the day, all the while growing the team. Not only that, growing our coverage over Malaysia, while at the same time, learning about the business, since I don’t have any prior experience in logistics, and neither did most of the team members. I’m glad to say that through sheer tenacity and our understanding of technology, we managed to pull through, and today, we have about 600 office staff, and up to 2,000 delivery drivers. On top of that, we have 100% coverage all over Malaysia, including East Malaysia.
What do you think was missing once upon a time, before Ninja Van Malaysia came into the picture?
Malaysia was on the cusp of a breakthrough in e-commerce when Ninja Van set foot in the country. We were fortunate to have caught a break with Lazada, who was one of our regional partners; it was the start of the boom of e-commerce, I would say, and they realised that they needed delivery solutions specifically tailored towards e-commerce. Logistics have been around for a long time, but logistics specifically for e-commerce, it was quite a new thing back then. We were fortunate to have caught the wave in offering value added services, paired with deep system integration that makes the delivery process seamless.
How has Ninja Van tackled the then oncoming storm for the Malaysian customers?
It really boils down to two things: the quality of the service (which basically translates to the speed of the service) – and the convenience that comes with it, and the peace of mind for the customers. If you think about it, much of the reason why Amazon is as successful as it is in America today is due to its next-day delivery service Amazon Prime. And that is something that we have brought to the table for the country.
That being said, a few years ago, whenever you order something online, it was a little bit of a guessing game in figuring out when it will eventually arrive. Customers were never sure when it has arrived at the courier’s warehouse, and how much longer it would take to get it delivered to your doorstep. What we’ve done is we’ve built a system that allows full transparency for the customers to track and trace their parcels, as they move from the merchant, to us at Ninja Van, before it reaches their doorstep. Hence, the peace of mind our service brings.