Leisure logistics: E-commerce and transport planning

26 Apr, 2021 | Transport Planning

We borrowed the definition of leisure fashion from the fashion world and applied it to logistics.
What emerged is a new way of thinking about the supply chain, based on the importance of
e-commerce and the strategic role of transport planning.

The domain of e-commerce and transport planning

We understood that the return to pre-Covid life was still far away when we saw the new collections of the most important fashion brands replacing jeans and mini dresses with jumpsuits and maxi pullovers. Fashion has always been a sort of detector of change, a signal of new social trends, even before those economic and business.

Because if Valentino and Jimmy Choo imagine us in pajamas and sneakers on the sofa, watching Netflix or remote working, this means that the delivery couriers, who deliver to our homes all kinds of products from groceries to pizza and from clothing to fresh fruit, also see us this way.

Fashion addicts call this new trend towards comfort “leisure fashion”, implying a comfortable style but at the same time high quality.

This topic could also easily be applied to last-mile logistics trends, which in the last year and a half, have increasingly made a difference in the choice of suppliers both from a B2B and B2C perspective

A “leisure logistics” that combines comfort with quality, global and local, simplicity and refinement. But this is from the consumer’s point of view.

And for those working in the sector?

“Just in time”: a bittersweet principle for supply chain and transport planning

As already mentioned, it is increasingly evident that the return to working and economic normality will not be as soon as we all would like. This coexistence with the virus and living a limited life in many aspects have a structural impact on the world of logistics and transport that results in the reflection of a new world that is not only linked to contingency but is also becoming structural.

In recent years, the world of logistics has worked towards a reduction in warehouses, a downsizing of storage costs, and a reconversion of spaces and organizational models to perfect the just-in-time method. But in the face of Covid, this model has revealed its weakness with a series of critical issues, lacking in flexibility but running excessive risks.

It is certainly very difficult to predict the future, but what is certain is that a redefinition of both work and socio-economic habits will necessarily involve a redefinition of logistics and transport, both of which will increasingly have to collaborate in a strategic and integrated perspective. The new logistics challenge will therefore be to find a new balance between storage needs and cost containment and the satisfaction of just-in-time requests and long-term planning through forecasting tools.

In this scenario, the transport sector will play a central role in ensuring adequate service both in the current health crisis and in the immediate post-crisis period. The just-in-time approach has greatly put pressure on the last link in the distribution chain, that is, the logistics operator responsible for delivering the finished product from the warehouse to the consumer/buyer.

To be more precise, Italy, especially in the north, consists of a myriad of small and medium-sized enterprises that have suddenly found themselves unable to carry out their services either for economic reasons (layoffs of transporters) or for even more serious reasons such as illness or bereavement. This has brought enormous damage both for these small businesses and for the entire logistics chain that bases its strength and efficiency on the level of service to the end customer, now accustomed to the convenience of everything and immediately.

E-commerce and sustainable transport planning: The challenge of the future

In this sense, it goes without saying that e-commerce is the great protagonist of this turning point for logistics. The data showed its exponential growth even before Covid, but the pandemic acted as an accelerator, determining the absolute importance of e-commerce.

The development of platforms dedicated to the last mile has also taken root in a market like that of Italy, which historically suffered from digital and structural backwardness.

For companies, e-commerce entails the need to adopt not only new distribution formulas that take into account the efficiency between transport-distribution costs and warehouse operations but also those that can easily adapt to technological, environmental, and economic changes systematically and sustainably.

In the current context, it is necessary to adapt the logic of transport and delivery to consider the combination of online and off-line experiences, analytics and field experience, and mathematical optimization and solid forecasting models.

In this sense, Ublique, Spindox’s decision intelligence platform, is not just a support tool for business decisions, but with its vertical modules dedicated to supply chain design and warehouse and transport optimization, strives to be a driver of corporate innovation both at an operational and strategic level.

The business model prompted by the pandemic requires management capable of making ever faster decisions, whose direction is entrusted not only to data and their variability but also, in particular, to an “ecological” approach that considers the many variables at stake. At a time like this, in which the balance between costs and benefits is so precarious, the use of a Transport Management System (TMS) will be essential for the proper management of transport costs, CO2 emissions, route planning, and fleet planning.

Ublique’s “Transport Planning” solution has proven to be a solid ally for all these players, especially those in the food retail sector, who, during the first wave of the Covid emergency, were able to guarantee high levels of service to those who stayed home and from their sofa, they fought, like everyone else, their battle.

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