The next generation of retail concepts such as cross-, multi-, and omni-channel commerce, requires logistics networks tailored to the needs of each single channel. This includes cost efficient, high-quality services achieved through the intelligent use of logistics networks and assets.
Retail services nowadays require logistics networks tailored to the specific needs of each mentioned channel, and omni-channel logistics can help optimize 24/7 delivery services for customers who want faster and better results.
Future of Fulfillment Vision Study, issued by Zebra Technologies Corporation, is a global body of research analyzing how manufacturers, transportation and logistics firms and retailers are preparing to meet the growing needs of the on-demand economy, in response to today’s online-buying, smartphone-wielding consumer who expects a smooth, quicker purchasing journey. According to the survey findings, 78% of logistics companies expect to be able to provide same-day delivery by 2023 and 40% will anticipate delivery within a two-hour window by 2028. In addition, 87% of respondents plan to use crowdsourced delivery or a network of drivers able to deliver a specific order by 2028.
Only 39% of supply chain respondents are already operating at omni-channel level: the main constraints to overcome consist in reducing backorders, inventory allocation and freight costs.
The tendency among retailers is to shrink selling space to accommodate pick-ups and returns in store and handle online orders.
Globally, 87% of respondents agreed that returns management is a crucial point. The increase in free and fast delivery corresponds with a rise of product returns, an expensive concern that retailers try to solve across different purchasing models. As already mentioned, some sellers are investing to use stores also as centers that handle returns of goods; others are choosing to outsource the activity, while some avoid the problem by not offering free shipping.
This study, carried out in 2017 across the US, Canada, Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Chile, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Italy, Russia, Spain, China, India, Australia and New Zealand, also draws attention on further topics, such as the most disruptive technologies to be implemented: drones, driverless vehicles, wearable and mobile technology and robotics.
Talking about established tools, the use of Radio-frequency identification (RFID) and inventory management platforms should grow by 49% in the next few years, offering a constant tracking of goods in each phase, with advantages in terms of customer satisfaction, enhanced inventory accuracy, reduced stock-outs and replenishment errors.
Although 72% of organizations have already adopted barcodes, there is still a long road to go, since a large part of operators still use inefficient, manual pen-and-paper based processes.
The upgrade to handheld computers with barcode scanners, expected to rise to 94% by 2021, will grant more real-time access to warehouse management systems.
Future-oriented decision makers revealed that next generation supply chains would reflect connected, automated and business-intelligence solutions that will add newfound speed, precision and cost effectiveness to transportation and labor.
As a less technological, but more creative example of companies trying to cut last-mile shipment costs, Walmart announced a few months ago that it would pay extra to its employees to deliver online orders headed to destinations along their normal route home. In an article issued last year, AP Logistics in the USA identified UBER network as another disruptive technology to distribute small parcels in a low-cost way.
Though supply chain “4.0” is not fully achieved yet, the world seems therefore ready for a new dimension and for a logistics landscape without borders or time limits.