Saturday May 25, 2024

Innovative technologies and changing customer wishes will drive e-commerce logistics, Leaders in Logistics predict

Panel at Leaders in Logistics Summit 2024
Panel at Leaders in Logistics Summit 2024

Two of the key factors driving the development of international e-commerce logistics in the coming years will be innovative technologies and changing customer wishes, according to a diverse range of speakers at this week’s Leaders in Logistics Summit in Barcelona.

That was one of the key messages during a session on ‘The E-Commerce Logistics Landscape’ at the two-day event, which was attended by about 600 representatives of leading postal operators, carriers, 3PLs, retailers and technology providers. CEP-Research was once again a media partner and participated in the event.

Recommerce explosion

In a keynote address, UK-based retail market researcher Richard Lim predicted that many online shoppers around the world – and especially younger people – will start to use Generative AI tools for researching their purchases.

He also highlighted the “explosion” of recommerce which is expected to double in size over the next five years, driven by economic, social and technological factors, and thus presenting “a massive opportunity” for retailers.

Last-mile optimisation

Reviewing how last-mile delivery has developed over the past decade, Mike Richmond, VP Sales at Doddle and Blue Yonder, predicted that the era of investing in out-of-home networks will move on to a bigger focus on “making optimal use of what you have” by concentrating on better utilisation and more efficiency.

For Blue Yonder (Doddle’s new owner), a key focus will be on global supply chain orchestration, better interoperability by getting different systems talk to each other, and leveraging Generative AI to forecast volumes and flows, he underlined.

More OOH options

In a panel discussion, Nick Landon, Chief Commercial Officer at Royal Mail, highlighted the British postal operator’s extremely efficient home delivery operation, with a 97.5% first time delivery rate, and claimed the company is “the greenest delivery operator in the world” thanks to its high share of foot-based deliveries and ongoing fleet electrification.

But he acknowledged that customer wishes are changing towards more out-of-home delivery options, meaning that Royal Mail is “starting to unpick that model” (of home delivery). “The challenge now is the mix of home delivery and OOH for changing customer wishes,” he commented.  

Among those changing wishes is the increasing split between those consumers who want “fast instant delivery” and those prepared to wait for bundled deliveries for cost reasons, he pointed out.

Diverse solutions

Nabil Malouli, DHL Supply Chain’s SVP eCommerce & Returns Global, said that DHL generally wanted to offer “unified commerce” but “not the same solutions in all countries” as retailers had very different priorities in different geographical markets. In particular, customer requirements for cities were very different to those for rural or remote areas. “You will see more companies doing city strategies instead of regions,” he predicted.

He described robotics as the biggest opportunity to improve fulfilment, noting that DHL has already deployed more than 2,000 devices in its warehouses around the world. In general, logistics companies needed to continuously adapt their technologies for changing customer requirements.

Peak planning and pricing

Another supply chain expert, Rafael Gutierrez de Mesa, managing director of GXO Iberia, stressed that customer experience is the key factor along with the challenge of how to manage peak volumes. Omnichannel is key,” he declared. Many of GXO’s customers had different kinds of inventories for stores and online sales, making inventory management a top priority.

For Daniel Rueda, CEO of Open Pricer, the key challenge facing the industry is that of capacity optimisation, especially at peaks when volume forecasting is difficult, and he urged more flexible pricing in response. “Most pricing is static but static pricing is not compatible with managing peaks. We need to go to more dynamic pricing and use sales data to improve planning,” he commented.

Eco-scores at checkout?

Asked by moderator Charles Brewer (CEO of Pos Malaysia) about the potential of charging additionally for ‘green’ delivery, Landon said this was becoming a ‘priority’ for some retailers but had not yet grown as much as expected.

Rueda said Open Pricer is working on including ‘eco-score’ information as part of pricing, enabling customers to offer both delivery prices and an ‘eco-score choice’ at checkout.


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