Thomas Schlickenrieder, VP Operations and Network, DHL e-Commerce, Asia Pacific
There is a battle for your doorstep – and it is raging. E-commerce is exploding and companies are vying to develop innovative last-mile delivery solutions to win over and wow consumers. The huge spike in online sales has been accompanied by higher expectations as shoppers demand smarter solutions for their smarter (read: digital) lifestyles. Both the Information and Technology in IT are crucial to meet – and exceed – customer expectations to earn the ultimate prize: return sales.
More and more e-tailers are recognizing how critical the last mile is to the customer journey – that choice, control and convenience can act as differentiators and drivers of loyalty. The fight over the last mile will be won by deliveries that are faster, providing more visibility, more predictability, more choice and more convenience. In short, the e-commerce industry is looking for innovative ideas and creativity from logistics providers.
That’s where the battle gets interesting. The last mile is a space that is notoriously costly and complex, accounting for upwards of 28 percent of the total delivery cost.
While e-tailers can integrate shipping costs into their prices, logistics players need to be flexible and forever innovative in order to make money. After all, failed deliveries mean added costs.
New gadgets and services are a constant part of our one-click digital world, where fast isn’t fast enough and customer loyalty can change faster than you can respond to a Facebook post
With that in mind, there’s certainly no time like the present. eMarketer estimates that global B2C e-commerce will reach $2.3 trillion by 2017. It was $1 trillion in 2015. That’s because in addition to the big 5 – China, USA, UK, Japan and Germany – many see a ‘gold rush’ of e-commerce potential in places like Southeast Asia, Latin America and Africa.
New gadgets and services are a constant part of our one-click digital world, where fast isn’t fast enough and customer loyalty can change faster than you can respond to a Facebook post. We need smart technology and even smarter data to meet – and exceed – consumer demands. It’s one thing to offer alternative delivery methods, it’s another to allow last-minute changes via a smartphone app. By harnessing the power of big data – GPS, transactional, census, geospatial, and more, logistics providers can build highly sophisticated delivery operation models that give them the last-minute insights they need to not only respond in real time, but to predict the future. This will make tracking and visibility highly accurate, delivering maximum convenience to consumers. Imagine noticing you won’t be home to accept a package and rerouting it to a convenience store in your neighborhood or rescheduling it for the next day.
Take for example a smartphone delivery app used by both couriers and consumers. While couriers use the app to manage a parcel’s journey, consumers use it to access real-time data. Recipients receive tracking information only seconds after parcels reach their next touch point, such as when it arrives the depot or is loaded onto the delivery van. And let’s not forget that the last mile is the final step and a key customer touch point– one that needs to be well-oiled if the e-commerce experience is to succeed. Technology will be the oil ensuring every link glides smoothly. Omni-channel fulfillment solutions, vision picking, collaborative robots and autonomous vehicles are just a few of the innovations poised to revolutionize the logistics industry.
The battle is on and the future of home delivery may arrive sooner than you think. Technology and delivery methods are constantly evolving and when the dust settles, those logistics companies who are the most agile and innovative – who ‘put a smile on the last mile’ – will still be standing.