The retail sector desperately needs a ‘new style’ of transporters
Transporters - or carriers - typically play a practical role in retail chains – that of carrying goods from A to B – but digitalisation offers the opportunity for them to upgrade their role and deliver much more added value for both shippers and their customers. Situated at the heart of the process, they can help to make the entire supply chain more responsive, efficient and sustainable – which would be hugely beneficial for retailers in the current situation.
Independent retailers and chain stores alike are currently facing a number of difficult challenges. Consumers are becoming increasingly unpredictable and demanding. Nowadays, there are so many sales channels – both bricks-and-mortar stores and web shops – that it is almost impossible to predict which ones customers will decide to use. But even so, they still expect items to be permanently available at all locations. If they order online, they often want their items delivered within ten minutes (rapid delivery) or certainly no later than the following day, when and where they choose.
Other recent developments have certainly not made life any easier for retailers. The war in Ukraine and the aftereffects of the pandemic are causing supply chain disruption and high transport prices, plus there is an acute shortage of drivers and other logistics employees. Product ranges are becoming more transparent, which is increasing the pressure on prices. Urbanisation is resulting in more small shops in busy residential areas and they are often difficult to replenish. There is growing demand for convenience food, such as ready-meals, which have a short shelf life and need to be ultra-fresh when they hit the shelves.
All food retailers know what this means: replenishing even more often, making your delivery system even more sophisticated, working under even more time pressure and incurring even higher costs.
The transporter holds the key
How can retailers deal with this? How can they ensure that all their shops, all their hubs and all their demanding customers can be supplied efficiently and on time in a way that leaves some profit over for them? This is where the transporter comes in. This logistics partner, who in many cases takes care of transport for the retailers, holds the key to meeting these challenges without incurring sky-high logistics costs. By planning better, analysing data, combining shipments in a smart way and reacting to changes in real time, transporters can optimise last-mile delivery, even under the most challenging of circumstances. But one thing in particular is essential if they are to accomplish all this...
Digitalisation is a must
It is imperative that transporters digitalise their business processes and implement advanced planning and communication tools. Transport planning is becoming an increasingly complex puzzle to solve due to shorter delivery times, smaller shipments, busier cities, tighter environmental regulations and a shortage of drivers. An enormous amount of data is needed to align supply and demand as closely as possible, consolidate it smartly and utilise transport capacity as efficiently as possible. This data then has to be processed in real time and automatically converted into appropriate follow-up actions by intelligent software systems.
Transporters must also be responsive and able to react swiftly to changes, such as fluctuations in consumer demand or hiccups in the supply chain or the traffic situation. The ‘new-style transporters’ need to be able to communicate seamlessly with their partners in the supply chain, so that everyone can instantly see all the relevant information. To do this, they need visibility-oriented systems that not only ‘transmit’, but also allow the recipients to respond and adjust the information as necessary. Professional delivery and two-way communication will allow transporters to truly optimise the customer experience.
The last mile makes the difference
Transporters can be the catalyst for a more efficient, sustainable retail supply chain and a higher level of customer satisfaction! Unfortunately, however, few retailers see their transport partner in this light. All too often, transporters are regarded as the providers of a purely practical service to carry goods from A to B. This oversight means that the sector is missing out on an enormous opportunity. Optimising the last mile is one area in which retailers can really set themselves apart from the competition. Meeting exacting consumer demands while continuing to manage costs requires visibility and real-time collaboration. Transporters have these tools at their disposal and are therefore like ‘digital linchpins’ that can make a real difference.
Request the Simacan whitepaper 'Business Intelligence; A dashboard for the future' it's all about how business intelligence can put you, as a carrier, on a more equal footing in discussions with your customers.