Although they can’t receive their orders instantaneously, consumers still expect immediate information on order tracking. As proof, a study carried out last year by MetaPack showed that 83% of the French tend to check the status of their orders at least twice between purchase and reception! Today, e-business leaders are (almost) the only ones able to meet this demand through the systematic tracking of merchandise directly from their site. It is therefore urgent for the others – who don’t belong to this elite and who are still sending their customers to the transporter’s site – to find a way to track the pathway of items ordered. How? By synchronizing data from all the places where orders are prepared and from the transporters. We can expect to see that this total visibility from the merchant site will rapidly become a standard service from online merchants. Even the smallest ones. This is because the cost of the necessary technology has been democratized and customer expectations have grown. In addition, in the context of on-going price wars, not including this type of service means running the risk that your customers will switch to the competition.
Will Uber Rush and Amazon Flex disappoint?
In the immediacy, yes, but not at any cost. This is perhaps the reaction that Uber Rush and Amazon Flex will run into if they develop in France. Their operating principle is simple: subcontract delivery of the last kilometer to part-time workers. But in places where consumers have made service quality a cardinal virtue, this type of arrangement runs the risk of being confronted with the following issues: “Even professionals don’t always do a proper job, so how can we expect amateurs to provide service quality that is at least identical? How can delivery security be guaranteed?”
But I’m not trying to throw the baby out with the bath water. The collaborative economy still provides a hotbed of fertile ideas for developing new logistics services with high added value for the customer and optimized prices. The “pallet network” systems proposed by Astre or DB Schenker illustrate this perfectly.
By acquiring Colis Privé, Amazon struck a decisive blow. Appropriating one of the French leaders in last-kilometer delivery signals end users that you control both the order and its execution. This makes you appear to be the master of trade and delivery. And this unique status will reinforce customer adherence. After integrating Colis Privé, Amazon will be even better equipped to honor its logistics commitments and propose optimal service quality.
Although this is a win-win situation for the end user, it makes the logistics ecosystem tremble. This is because the acquisition of Colis Privé combined with the rental of twenty Boeing 747 planes and a maritime transport license will most assuredly provoke the disappearance of certain transporters (the most fragile) and create a loss for others (the largest). These major maneuvers will also widen the gap between the Seattle group and other online merchants. It will mean that Amazon can propose a holistic offer including sales, storage and delivery and offering easier access to many markets around the world. Who else can say as much?
Bulk sales: the unexpected logistics challenge
Although they’re certainly not new, bulk sales have become the latest boom. Confined to the fresh fruits and vegetables section for many years, they are now part of the way most food products are sold. Bulk sales are an outstanding success with customers who want to combine ethics and consumption and with those who have a tight budget. Organic brands like Biocoop were the first to resuscitate this type of sales and were followed by hypermarkets like Auchan. In any case, this way of selling, which ties retail giants to small producers, represents a real logistics challenge. This is because silos can’t contain much, but retailers still want to provide goods just in time. This presupposes supply within a very short time frame. But small producers don’t have the means to do this. However, new agile players – like Qualtrade – are emerging. What’s their advantage? They can ensure product referencing, storage and transport on a very tight schedule, which depends on efficient supply management and an appropriate IT system. The coming months will reveal the future of this type of model.
2016: the year of RFID?
The Deloitte firm has categorized robotics as one of the sector’s most mature innovations. Fittingly enough. Like Leclerc with Scapest, many retailers have automated a major part of their logistics activity in warehouses. To carry out automation, RFID technology has the earmarks of a winner in this year’s logistics game. This technology participates in improving merchandise traceability and in load compliance. Enabling the acquisition of a larger amount of more precise data, RFID simplifies the granular targeting of products incriminated during recall operations. Benefiting from increasingly attractive rates, this technology is clearly profitable for companies. As an added benefit, RFID saves money on the reception, anti-theft and inventory processes at points of sale. In our era of immediateness and service quality, will RFID finally be an obvious choice for 2016?