-Julie Van Haare Heijmeijer-

E-commerce is still growing steadily and the package volumes keep growing.  Because of this, it is more clearly where the bottlenecks are in the process, therefore innovation is emerging faster than ever.

I will describe 5 trends in the logistics of e-commerce:

  1. The retailer claims the ‘last-mile’


The purchase process at an online retailer is an experience. Consistently designed and equipped with its unique tone of voice. It is time for online retailers to claim the ‘last-mile’, so they also control the customer experience from order until the delivery. An extreme example is Amazon, which currently operates globally with its own delivery network, so they would have almost the entire e-commerce chain in house. Companies can also improve their communication about delivery. They can communicate progress of shipments themselves via the customer account of the shop. This is not popular among carriers, but it is time they realize that the shop is their client, and not the end consumer.


  1. Individuals and deliverers are helping each other


Who regularly orders online and is usually not home, sees his neighbours often. Least a quarter of the shipments may be the first time not delivered to the addressee. Delivery at the neighbours has therefore been the ‘solution’ to a closed door. Nevertheless, it raises the question: “why can’t I as a consumer not choose to which neighbours my parcel is delivered?” or “Can I be compensated as a homeworker to receive parcels for others?” For example, thanks to startups like Package Peer, which allows residents to receive parcels for others. A clear signal that individuals have a greater role in the last mile.


  1. Deliverers are the new store personnel


The fewer consumers buy offline, the less they come into contact with store personnel. Logical. But does this also mean that online consumers, by definition, have no need for personal contact? Companies are emerging their services online. An example is Cloakroom, who is helping their online customers via WhatsApp.  So they deliver personal service, but without the shop floor. Continuing to this, the role of the deliverer is growing. With e-commerce this is most of the time the only ‘real’ moment of contact between shop and customer. Retailers are therefore increasingly critical to the experience at the door – regarding to courtesy of the courier and an immaculate uniform.


4. Servers are redundant, now it’s time for logistics
To deliver so efficient as possible, and therefore as cheap as possible, carriers benefit from regularity and predictability. This allows them to plan optimally and they will never have too much or too little capacity. Here we have a problem: volumes in e-commerce are not regular and predictable. Especially around the holidays, this leads to problems. In December volumes can quickly double or even triple. New retail Holidays’ like Black Friday reinforce this. The challenge will be even greater when you want to deliver when it is convenient for the customer. The vast majority of consumers wants to receive their orders on weekdays in the evening.
Consequence: squeaks and creaks during this period in the distribution centres.

To outwit this capriciousness off, it is becoming increasingly important for online retailers to quickly switch between multiple carriers. If a delivering company can’t make it, you should be able to switch quickly as online retailer to a carrier who can deliver. A company can respond to this volume problem with different charges for delivery on different times. So unpopular times to deliver will be cheaper and popular times to deliver will be more expensive.

  1. Same-day delivery, beyond the hype


An American study shows that 30 percent of young “Generation Y” thinks availability of same-day delivery is important. Companies should emerge into the needs of the customers to reduce the same-day delivery rates. This is not necessarily on a national scale. More and more retailers offer same-day delivery on a regional or even local scale. Zalando is testing in big cities of Germany with same-day delivery. But a small side note to this: still, delivering on convenient times for a customer is more important than fast delivery.