GoGoVan CEO says whoever adopts autonomous vehicle technology first will dominate logistics
Autonomous driving technology will enable more efficient and affordable delivery of goods
As autonomous vehicle technology becomes more advanced, the first company to adopt it successfully has the potential to dominate the logistics market, according to a top executive from Hong Kong logistics start-up GoGoVan.
“[A company like] Google’s Waymo has very mature [autonomous] technology already,” said Steven Lam, chief executive of GoGoVan in a panel discussion at the South China Morning Post’s China Conference in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday. “Whoever can adopt autonomous technology first will be the winner [in logistics].”
Lam likened the arrival of autonomous driving technology to how cars displaced horse carriages as a mode of transport in the 20th century, and pointed out that although such technology is still hindered by policy, it will allow more efficient and affordable delivery of goods – whether intra- or inter-city when it becomes mainstream.
He dismissed the notion that such technology will cause drivers for companies like GoGoVan to lose their jobs, pointing out that autonomous technology will also create opportunities that humans can align with.
“We need to evolve ourselves with new tools, we need to adapt,” Lam said.
Lam was speaking during a discussion of the technologies and logistics Southeast Asian companies should adopt to attract Chinese consumers.
Victor Chua, managing partner at Vynn Capital, echoed Lam’s comments and urged traditional businesses to adapt technologies and work with entrepreneurs to stay relevant, regardless of the industry they are in. This is particularly important for big companies who might not be as nimble as start-ups.
“You cannot genetically recreate a start-up … there are elements that you cannot recreate [in a large company] just by hiring people or creating a subsidiary,” Chua said.
On the issue of cross-border e-commerce, Malaysian businesses often have the misconception that they are unable to sell to China as they are unable to compete on price, according to Fione Tan, chief executive of e-commerce platforms 28Mall.com and eOneNet.com. However, there is often a demand for local products such as durian and coffee from Chinese consumers.
She said that sellers who are keen to sell cross-border to China can now build businesses online thanks to cloud infrastructure, and that cross-border e-commerce is now “faster and cheaper” as countries like China embrace imported goods.
Malaysia had earlier partnered with Alibaba Group Holding, which owns the Post, on the electronic world trade platform (eWTP). With the eWTP, small and medium enterprises in both the mainland and Malaysia will be able to conduct cross-border trade easily.