The latest trends in the retail logistics services offered by IFA
With the huge boost in online commerce, it comes to no surprise that this has had a huge impact on the logistics services offered by the companies in the International Forwarding Association.
While in traditional brick and mortar based retail, the customer is responsible to go to the retailer to purchase something and is actually performing the “last mile” in the distribution chain, with e-commerce, the customer expects the goods to be delivered to him or her, and thus the last mile delivery is performed by the list of logistics companies instead.
Since location is an essential element of retailing, many businesses rely on the forwarders throughout Europe to provide them with warehouses and storage and distribution services in locations which are near their customers.
The companies from the European network for transportation offer to maintain and manage their inventory, as well as to distribute it and perform the last mile of the delivery to the customer as part of the storage and distribution, and contract logistics services they provide.
In fact, for the larger e-retailers, the international freight forwarders network offers entire networks of distribution centers which allow for the optimization of the coverage and the services provided to regional markets.
The distribution centers are in fact now interacting with the customers who make their orders online, and they are responsible for making the home deliveries directly to the end clients.
So, more online retailers are now becoming responsible for the deliveries, which in traditional retail were the responsibility of the customers themselves.
How the freight forwarders association is adapting to these changes
With the growing intensity of distribution based consumption, the forwarders throughout Europe are working on making their storage and distribution services even more efficient. Because of the delayed timing of the delivery when a purchase is made online as compared to going to the store, certain perishable products are not that suitable for online commerce. These include groceries and medication, as opposed to apparel or electronics for example.
So, in order to capture larger market shares, online retailers are doing their best to offer same day or next day deliveries to their customers. This can be done by strategically positioning their high demand goods in the warehouses and urban logistics depots offered by the list of logistics companies from the freight forwarders network.
The impact of technology on retail logistics
Overall, with the huge technological advances, what used to be a complex process as traditional retail logistics, today is a much more efficient and self-orchestrated system.
Today, there are various technological innovations and trends which are affecting retail logistics, apart from the boom in online commerce.
These include the advent in artificial intelligence and in robotics. These are widely being used in the warehouses owned and managed by the freight forwarders network. Robots are already taking the place of human workers in the employees, and hopes are that pretty soon these automated systems will become smarter and will be able to work even more efficiently without the need of human control to determine the fastest delivery routes or to arrange pickups, for example.
Overall, it is obvious that retail logistics in undergoing serious change, and just how advanced it will become is just a matter of time to tell.