Much of the focus for supply chain efficiencies in retail is now on improving last mile logistics. Especially as this is one business area in which emerging technology provides a great force for change.
Why last mile logistics?
Last mile logistics involves either the final stage of getting goods to bricks and mortar locations or delivering purchases into the hands of customers for e-commerce.
Speed is now a key measurement of any adjustments made to all forms supply chain and customer relations.
For example, retail companies must be able to access stock quickly, without necessarily holding large amounts on the premises.
Consumers are also seeking out foods from local sources more, meaning food retailers must create a more complex network of partnerships with local producers, farms and suppliers.
In e-commerce terms, customers expect fast and efficient delivery, including options to collect and drop off from non-residential locations, to fit around work schedules.
Slow like a dinosaur
It all adds up to a far more demanding and pressurised management of last mile logistics. Getting it right can be the differentiating factor that creates a substantial competitive edge. However, when it goes wrong or your supply chain and logistics can’t meet demand, the ripple effect can be very costly. It can even put you out of business.
Last mile logistics also often relies on something highly unpredictable and problematic – the British transport system!
This is one area of retailing that is increasingly relying on technology. It also requires a retail executive recruitment agency to seek out people able and willing to find creative, responsive and feasible solutions.
Solutions can be found in collecting and using the right data, proper planning and by sourcing the right partnerships, click-to-collect locations and localised carriers.
Other potential developments include use of drones. The ones being tested for retail operations carry up to 15 kg, fly in and out of warehouses directly without hindrance, and speed up delivery scheduling using airspace.
Retail executives are also watching with interest as automated ground vehicles (AGVs) begin to emerge as a way of moving products efficiently. These are already being tested by retail chains and are proving promising. This includes trials by fast food companies to automated deliveries by sending out orders using small robotic vehicles.
Last mile delivery alternatives must be explored and developed, to decentralise the supply chain and create a more responsive and flexible product flow.
This hinges on the confidence to invest in new concepts and to “experiment” with more local suppliers.
It stands to reason then, that your retail executive search must pinpoint individuals who can think “smart”. Who know how to extract and manage data, to support greater automation and to build a faster, more flexible and sustainable logistics system.