Research & Development

Supply chain, e-commerce and technology: what to expect in the next few years?

Apr 16, 2019 | 186 views

Technology, globalization and connectivity: these are just a few terms that have been changing supply chain management in recent years. A significant part of this transformation is directly related to the popularization and consolidation of e-commerces, which have contributed significantly to transforming logistics operations, increasingly fast and adaptable to meet the demands.

In this context, there is an increase in competitiveness and consumer sovereignty. That said, to stay relevant, companies need to invest in innovation and invest in customizing their services. An example of such an initiative is drone technology, led by the giant Amazon, which has managed to make over-express deliveries in about 30 minutes, or strategies that reflect and propose solutions to problems related to urban logistics, such as cargo bikes DHL.

In a scenario of continuous evolution, it is necessary to keep abreast of the trends, and here we point a way on the concepts and novelties that logistics managers and e-commerces should be aware of if they are willing to further develop their operations and monitor logistics developments for the next few years.

The demands of e-commerce

The e-commerce market has evolved and matured in recent years in Brazil, conquering a number of active users that already surpasses the 50 million mark. Virtual consumption has gained the preference of several people, and one of the reasons for this preference is thanks to the practicality and comfort that this segment presents.

However, to sell more, tenants had to adapt and look for ways to improve their services and meet the expectations of customers. Among the demands of e-commerce, we highlight:

Unit Orders

One feature of transactions made in an e-commerce is that the orders are unitary. If often in traditional supply chain management, institutions work with the sporadic movement of large volumes of cargo - which usually occupy a whole truck - a virtual store handles a huge amount of individual purchases from different customers.

Higher load fractionation index

As a result of unit orders, an e-commerce rarely has a number of deliveries that would justify filling an entire truck with your goods to be shipped at the same time.

On the contrary, the demand for pulverized deliveries predominates, for different regions and addresses - and, consequently, with different deadlines and prices. For this, the fractional load system, in which a customer shares the space of a vehicle and the route with other deliveries, is the most cost-effective.

Omnichannel

Despite all the convenience that e-commerce offers, the modern consumer wants even more convenience, which requires hybrid solutions. Therefore, one of the major highlights is the need to be present on multiple integrated channels, which is widely known as omnichannel.

This concept talks about the integration between physical and virtual stores, providing a more complete experience for the customer. An example of how this works is Click & Collect, in which a user can choose and make the purchase online but can withdraw and pay for their order at a nearby physical store.

Technologies that should cause disruptions in the supply chain

The future of e-commerce supply chain management is closely linked to the automation and advancements that technology makes possible. The main bets that promise to break down barriers in the sector are:

Automation and Robotics

Process automation and the use of bottlenecks in the supply chain are becoming more and more frequent. These interconnected systems are able to not only fulfill tasks on production lines, but also to position and separate products, pack them, address them and make them ready for transport.

Internet of Things (IoT)

The acronym IoT (Internet of Things) and IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things) refer to the Internet of Things and the omnipresence of this technology in corporations. In general, this feature allows different devices to communicate, enhancing the visibility and capacity of the entire chain. For example, this provides better monitoring of fleet and remote loads and greater accuracy in inventory management.

Artificial intelligence

There are many applications of artificial intelligence in the operations of an e-commerce. An example is chatbots, a tool that simulates a human conversation and thus automates customer service.

With them, the company gains productivity and offers a faster shopping experience for the user.

Freight Trucks

Trucks that meet the routes alone and dispense with the presence of drivers are already a reality in some countries. As an advantage, the company can reduce costs, increase the productivity of deliveries and not depend so much on labor.

A technique known as platooning, places vehicles to move in train in a synchronized way, via integration Vehicle to Vehicle (V2V). Trucks move in a synchronized manner, and as the whole system is thought to reduce the effort of each car, the result is the decrease with fuel costs.

Blockchain

Blockchain is a technology related to governance and data recording whose main pillars are transparency, security, decentralization and agility. It can be incorporated into several segments, making it possible to optimize processes and eliminate errors and fraud.

In logistics, Blockchain's applicability is numerous, and has grown every year since it is possible to track and share information along the chain and reinforce oversight of each step.

In the case of integration processes, such as between shippers and carriers, the time is reduced dramatically, in a proportion where a process that would take months could take only a few days to complete.

This brings benefits to the monitoring of routes, pricing of products, monitoring of deliveries, among others. In addition, the reduction of human intervention within the processes, makes the possibility of errors and frauds very small.

The possible consequences of these transformations
As we have seen, there are many functions that various forms of innovation confer for supply chain management in an e-commerce. As probable results, we have:

Security in transactions

When information is centralized in a single database, it is easier to find it. Blockchain itself is intended to ensure safer transactions based on encryption and chain tracing.

Higher speed in processes

Logistic automation contributes to the establishment of a continuous stream of activities, once the company is fully interconnected. In this way, it is possible to institute a standardized and linear cycle of processes, without errors and bottlenecks, and consequently much faster.

Real-time visibility

Digital systems give a more systemic view of the entire chain, in which every stage, environment, professional or resource can be monitored in real time and from anywhere.

Increased productivity and sustainability
The use of technology promotes the substitution of slow procedures and the reduction of bureaucracies, rework, excesses and errors. This contributes to both cost savings and sustainability by reducing waste of materials and fuel costs, for example.

Innovation in the market

Technology, in essence, makes logistics operations smarter. This opens space for innovations of all kinds, capable of empowering the service and meeting the demands of consumers.

Highlight the collaborative economy, which allows users to share their routes, their time or their products and spaces with others involved. Are you on your way to the city center? You can offer a ride or make a delivery to someone.

Maximizing the management of the supply chain is possible with the support of technology. It promotes the incorporation of agile and disruptive methods, which put logistics at high performance. So stay tuned for trends and align your company with the future, which already knocks on the door.