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What are the most essential capacities of your e-logistic provider ?

Ecommerce logistics have become more difficult in recent years with the rise of Amazon's two-day free shipping standard. In the past, 10-day shipping at an additional cost was the norm, but Amazon has revolutionized the field with Amazon Prime.

Today's consumers expect free, two-day delivery. What's more, today's consumers will accept nothing less than the quality and accuracy of their deliveries. Sellers need a reliable supply chain to meet this demand, and many businesses simply don't have the resources to deal with many of the logistics issues associated with e-commerce.

Whether or not a business decides to strengthen its e-commerce logistics capacity internally or through an external provider, it is critical to guarantee that the business or its 3PL provider has the following capabilities:

1.       Inventory localization  

Today's shorter shipping cycle has prompted sellers to distribute their inventory and keep their products in smaller warehouses closer to customer in order to reduce lead times. It also allows them to use regional, local carriers and other options that are not possible when shipping long distances. Local distribution options are often cheaper and help keep costs down.

2.       Big Data

Data, enhanced by smart analytics, can be a game-changer in e-commerce logistics. For example, big data can help identify demand patterns and trends that were previously invisible. Big data-based predictive software can link inventory planning to shipping trends and product interest online. Big Data also plays an essential role in optimizing product transit by making it possible to analyze data in real time. The systems collect and analyze data from a wide variety of sources, including the Internet of Things, weather forecasts, and more, to predict the optimal route from point A to point B.

3.       Automation

Automation is key to meeting the demand for two-day delivery. Automated systems notify customers when delays occur throughout the supply chain. Robotic warehouses can place orders automatically when inventory is low, preventing lost sales. Automated delivery trucks and drones are expected to become commonplace in the near future.

4.       Connection and synchronization

When managing multiple warehouses and deliveries across regions and even in different countries, synchronization and integration is essential. For example, warehouse inventory tracking mechanisms need to be connected to an online store, because customers want to know if an item is in stock before going through the ordering process. They also want to be able to track their shipment order throughout the supply chain.

As the business grows, owners often add logistics capacity in an ad hoc patchwork style. To optimize the logistics of e-commerce and continue to develop, companies must invest in the synchronization and connection between their different warehouses, or to rely on integrators of warehouses and transportation network as Helpmestock did in Europe, Middle East, Asia and Africa.

5.       Reverse logistics

Sometimes customers are unhappy with a purchase and wish to return or exchange it, a process also known as reverse logistics. Returns and exchanges can account for over 25% of sales in e-commerce, where customers can only see, feel or try the product after it has been delivered. The costs and mechanisms of managing reverse logistics as carefully as the initial purchase should be included in the budget and ecommerce logistics plans.