Retail logistics, future predictions and planning to find the best solution.

Sea freight spot rates have remained fairly flat this month, but air freight prices remain high and are forecast to rise by a further 4% in 2018. The issue of increasing capacity demand and costs, together with the advanced technology and consumer insights now available to companies, means it is a good time to review your supply chain strategy and look at all the freight forwarding solutions available to you.

E-commerce is no longer a seasonal phenomenon driven by sales and online bonanzas such as Black Friday. This business is a year-round growing industry, major breakthroughs in technology have enabled quicker delivery times, higher efficiency and greater accuracy, costs are being driven down and customer expectations continue to rise, so logistic partnerships are incredibly important.

At TPS Global Logistics we have an experienced team of account managers, new state of the art warehouse and distribution facilities, and in addition to Air, Sea, Road and Rail freight services, we offer retail and ecommerce logistics, time critical, IT and event logistics, as well as courier services.

We have looked at some of this year trends and believe predictions for ecommerce logistics in the future include the following –

Drone delivery – this year saw the first ever Prime Air delivery by Amazon in Cambridge, England, and a recent retail study found that 73% of US Consumers would pay a $10 surcharge for the convenience of drone delivery. So, we can assume Amazon is working hard on a planned rollout, we will be watching for more urban testing next year.

Software development is leaping ahead to address ground delivery efficiency, the idea that an Uber type of freight brokerage solution could address the lost capital of lorries delivering at less than capacity, using the option of loading/unloading opportunities en-route. Which should lead to fuller payloads, better timed pick ups and drop offs and faster overall delivery – meaning better margins.

The lines between ecommerce and retail will blur – leading to the growth of omnichannel fulfilment. Businesses have realised that customers prefer the choice of buying instore or online, so popular ecommerce brands will make the move to retail – we’ve seen Amazons pop up store appear in Soho, London, and the Amazon Go convenience store was launched in Seattle. The major retailers will continue ramping up their ecommerce, but shops have also seen upselling potential in store, with customers buying additional goods whilst picking up click and collect online purchases.

As B2C businesses learn more about customers purchasing habits, this will streamline operations, and more accurate sales predictions mean greater fulfilment efficiency, which is a win-win all round, companies will benefit from smarter logistics and customers will benefit from lower prices being passed on.

However, we see the biggest impact on shipping and fulfilment in the future being artificial intelligence. Love it or hate it, AI is already in use by many companies to deliver optimised customer experiences – chatbots are an example of how AI technology is becoming more widespread and more helpful.

The next step will be AI facilitating the back of house operations of major ecommerce companies.  A smarter chatbot could assist customers with basic queries such as tracking a shipment or purchasing on your behalf, for example, when it sees a product you’ve previously bought and positively reviewed goes on-sale.

There is no doubt that AI gives companies quantifiable data for sales, campaigns, retargeting and marketing, which will assist with closer management of supply chain and retail logistics.