Logistics in the E-Commerce Era

ForbesMay 29, 2019

One of the less-often-thought-about components of the digital and retail revolution is how exactly customers and businesses will receive products.

Amazon has set the new standard, and many consumers expect to receive products ordered online within 48 hours. Other big players such as Target and Walmart are now trying to compete with Amazon by integrating a two-day shipping model as a standard part of their platform.

To keep up with increasing demand from e-commerce channels and meet the expectations of consumers, organizations will need to invest in their warehouses and distribution centers and increase the development and implementation of advanced supply-chain and logistics processes.

New technologies such as augmented reality, drones, advanced robotics, and smart glasses for hands-free pick, pack, and ship are the key to reducing costs and ensuring the competitiveness of the company and satisfaction of the customer.

Companies that fail to keep up with logistics trends risk losing competitive advantage and falling out of favor with consumers.

The continued rapid growth in e-commerce markets will demand an equally rapid and innovative response from transport and logistics businesses.

Do more with less

To stay competitive in the modern market, organizations will have to purchase predictive software based on inventory sensing tied all the way back to customer browsing and product interest to manage and streamline warehouse processes.

Software-driven changes through the implementation of AI/ML, drones, autonomous machines and analytics will increase the speed of order fulfillment, reduce inefficiencies and dramatically accelerate productivity and effectiveness. The linkage of “add tech” software companies to track browsing will be very valuable to predicting purchasing trends. Using analytics and deep learning to customize the shopping experience by learning customer browsing habits and serving up likeliest products and recommendations is key to driving customer satisfaction and repeat orders.

Developing a holistic ecosystem for maximizing all channels; including online, in-store pick up, e-commerce, partners, resellers, distributors, global manufacturers will drive net new customers, profitable repeat transactions and net new sales and loyalty.

Taking steps out of the customer journey and streamlining the fulfillment process will allow organizations to increase their output with fewer inefficiencies and a smaller workforce.

Sustainable solutions

The supply chain is no longer linear but rather circular. Suppliers are now finding ways to reuse and reclaim materials to keep prices low and competitive while simultaneously appealing to millennials who value and support brands with a strong ESG (environmental, social, and governance) focus. This mindset shift will help to create resiliency within the supply chain, and in turn create more sustainable and long-term value and growth for businesses.

A key strategy for any logistics and supply-chain-management business is to be agile in resource allocation. In geographically diverse sectors, companies that are better prepared to flexibly reallocate resources are best positioned to seize new opportunities and gain market share. Allocating resources to initiate a supply-chain transformation is a smart investment that will yield long-term positive business impacts.

One of the best ways to improve your organization’s supply-chain strategy is through the implementation of advanced ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) software. New ERP systems inventory sensing with supply-chain management and warehouse-management capabilities can automatically place orders with vendors when inventory levels drop below a certain level. Standardizing this process will increase efficiency, provide real-time inventory management, raise cost awareness and help the organization gain data insight into purchasing trends and customer preferences.

Digital development

Technology and the digital revolution will continue to disrupt every business and as the world becomes a smaller place more companies will have to embrace the digitization of logistics or risk being left behind. Every company today is facing pressure from digitally enabled change, resulting in new competitors and higher expectations from customers. The modern consumer wants a global marketplace with access to products from Asia, Europe, etc. Companies will have to reduce the cost associated with shipment and fulfillment of orders in order to remain profitable. Advanced inventory-sensing systems capabilities allow for predicative insights to be able to move materials forward and closer to the customers via pop-up warehouses, etc., to enable quick delivery.

With the advancement of technology such as autonomous delivery trucks and robotic warehouse ecosystems, it is clear there is a “blurring of silos” between logistics companies and technology services companies. As 3PLs and 4PLSs continue to leverage their technology platforms as a major selling point, it will become increasingly harder to differentiate a logistics company from a technology and software company. This will lead to more agile solutions used for purchasing, warehouse management and other operational facets in the logistics and supply chain.

When taking advantage of such solutions it is important to analyze whether or not a using a new service/platform will increase or limit your company’s flexibility in the supply chain, and whether you can ensure that your company will be able to live up to its customer-service policies when using third-party services. Companies will need to invest in their back-office digital strategy that is linked to their value drivers of customer satisfaction by building on their existing assets, customer relationships, and partnerships, and carefully implementing new technology.

As more and more organizations purchase software to manage and control warehouses and streamline fulfillment and distribution, it will become mission-critical for organizations to stay abreast of the latest advancements in the logistics and supply-chain industries in order to stay relevant and competitive in the rapidly expanding e-commerce market.

To truly delight customers, companies will want to build on their expertise in customer acquisition and ensure that their back-office supply chain and logistics stay as up to date as their front-office customer journey.                  

This article was written by Betsy Atkins from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

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