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Technological Advancement in the Logistics Industry

logistics

Technological Advancement in the Logistics Industry

In the last ten years, the rise of over 3.5 billion registered users participating in global e-commerce has occurred. The ease and openness of the e-commerce industry allow individuals and businesses to participate in domestic and international e-commerce trade platform, giving each country the opportunity to scale up its workforce and revenue collection. With the help of technological advances, products are now being introduced by the Internet through social media, live streaming, and many more avenues, rather than the traditional sales marketing and advertising methods. The growth of e-commerce has also affected the logistics infrastructure requirements and needs.

Logistics company owners are left with a variety of problems due to the ever-changing e-commerce world, including proper storage, competitive pricing, quick delivery, and fluctuating quantities and unpredictable changes. Though most are eager to find a solution, many have yet to realize that the solution requires full technology integration. Consistent system maintenance and development, integrating sales, operations, administration, and financial functions, connecting and configuring a variety of endpoints, protection from cyber-attacks, and many other functions are essential to creating a cost-effective and productive company during the internet era. With a complexity of technology system operations, it is best for companies to partner with a trusted technology company in developing a logistics platform that will deliver multiple benefits and develop long-term commercial ties.

The availability of a technology platform that works without geographical boundaries will have a huge impact on e-commerce and logistics users because they will be able to collaborate and cooperate with each other under one platform on every computer and smartphone device. Each user in real-time is able to list detailed logistics requirements and services to include pricing schemes, transportation schedules, warehouse spaces, detailed information operations, and others. Additionally, a working relationship with only particular companies and owning branch offices, warehouses, and vehicles in other countries should be transitioned into more transparent cooperation with local companies. Being able to share resources with trusted local companies will give advantages in speeding up operation processes and minimize cost while reducing investment risks.

Internet commerce trade will reach global sales of 17.5 percent in 2021 with a compound annual rate of 15 percent. As a result, many countries have introduced new regulations for e-commerce items that have created confusion and problems for many companies. These e-commerce regulations are overlapping with non-e-commerce items, resulting in a delay in clearance. In addition, when the pandemic lockdown period is lifted, we will see an increase of international and regional trades with the rise of conflict as a result of slow information distribution, causing delays and missed delivery dates.

We are at a point that it is almost impossible for companies to function properly without technological help in recalling HS code numbers, custom tax code, restriction and document requirements, operation notification and monitoring, and many others. With the availability of a real-time crowd sharing platform that is accessible for users, business and logistics transactions are a click away to finalize. Companies should prepare to meet unprecedented regional and international unexpected trades challenge in the internet era, nothing has ever flourished entirely alone: the logistics industry needs an advanced technological integration platform to flourish in the e-commerce era.

 

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Eddy Syaifulah is the head of Mahyu LLC.

ecommerce

How to Manage a Sustainable eCommerce Strategy After the Pandemic

DK Hardware, online home improvement retail company, presents six reasons why it is essential to professionally manage an eCommerce platform, so that your business or entrepreneurship is consolidated according to the unwritten rules of the digital economy.

Understanding that the digital economy will continue to be one of the main economic engines in the post-COVID-19 stage, it is essential to ensure our business opportunities in the medium term. However, to achieve the previous, the development of skills to capitalize on it, as well as to face the challenges it entails, is key.

In the last quarter of 2020, the growth of eCommerce globally has been more than exponential. According to Statista, retail platforms have undergone a six percent global traffic increase between January and March 2020. Overall, retail websites generated 14.34 billion visits in March 2020, up from 12.81 billion global visits in January 2020. This is of course due to the global coronavirus pandemic which has forced millions of people to stay at home in order to stop the spread of the virus. How to continue with that sustainable success? DK Hardware shares six key thoughts.

1. Maximize investment. Digital commerce will be the area that will receive the most investment in the coming months (and therefore the most competitive), and these resources should be managed in an efficient and optimized way, since the sales process will be impacted from the pre-sale, the transaction, the after-sales, as well as the service and the customer experience.

2. The relationship with the client evolves. Customer consumption habits have changed and during the process e-commerce has won thousands of new consumers, so the evolution of online commerce management should represent an opportunity to resume direct relationships with consumers. Direct to consumer (D2C) solutions, such as CRMs, applications, custom quotes based on customer needs in regards to volume or project, and communication APIs will be unstoppable in the coming months, and you must understand what they are, how they work and what advantages they can bring to your project.

During the contingency, empathy and transparency played a leading role in customer service, and service was prioritized over sales. Learning to keep our commitments and manage the true needs of consumers in our favor will position us positively, and digitization will be a perfect ally to strengthen these new parameters and deliver true added value to our business or entrepreneurship.

3. New technologies in support of a contact-less society: Concepts such as voice assistants, advanced analytics, artificial intelligence, augmented reality, mobile communication applications, omnichannel platforms, the Internet of Things, robotics and big data in real time, will be variables that must be included in the eCommerce strategy, and we must learn what are the advantages of each of these technologies to capitalize them according to our market segment, since it is intuited that the newly acquired habits will detonate in new needs and demands.

4. A new dimension of social commerce. Social networks are part of the daily life of consumers, and the growth in the use of these platforms during the pandemic has increased the relevance of the exchange of opinions, preferences, and recommendations, around brands, products, and services. The implementation of data analysis tools in real time, for example, that allow measuring customer sentiment, will be very suitable for the development of communication strategies and efficiency of digital campaigns, as well as an adequate conversion of sales interactions.

5. Logistics efficiency. Although the growth of eCommerce has become a great advantage, it also has challenges that are transforming the established foundations. If online sales have suffered from anything during this contingency, it is the lack of infrastructure and logistics to speed up the arrival of the product in the hands of the customer. Learning to digitize and automate delivery and delivery routes in the most efficient way for the good performance of our business is something that greater investment in digital training allows.

6. Care of personal data. The greater the demand, the greater the security gaps. Understanding the relevance, design and management of robust cybersecurity systems, authentication, and protection of personal data will transform in consumer trust and loyalty.

After the rapid evolution of eCommerce, we are obliged to evolve. Only change is guaranteed, and we must demand a perfect rhythm to do it. Training will always be the most important ally for adaptation and the creation of firm, robust, viable and disruptive projects. We do not see a better time than this to add true professionalism to eCommerce strategies, acquire leadership of transformation and thus achieve a new generation of businesses that face the demanding and competitive future.

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Featured in the Best Online Shops 2020 – Newsweek, DK Hardware is one of the largest online home improvement retailers for a variety of hardware manufacturers all over the United States and Canada.

digital

Digital Collaboration: Get ahead, fast.

Recently at a conference for freight forwarders everyone jointly agreed: if you’re the fastest to quote, you win the customer. What astonished me was what I heard in a conversation afterwards! “We are working in shifts now, 16 hours per day, to make sure we can quote fast and win new deals,” said one of the present forwarders. I was surprised that putting in more hours to send emails back and forth is a better solution for shipping companies than digitizing collaboration and automating tasks. The banking system solved this issue years ago with the introduction of the SWIFT system: a standardized banking system that enables companies which had never worked with each other before to transfer money on a global scale at no risk. 

In shipping, we’re still way behind the curve. The newly formed Digital Container Shipping Association has taken the first timid steps to promote data standards in shipping because they believe in close collaboration between the different stakeholders. The underlying rationale for this collaboration is typically 2-fold: (a) Margins are still depressed due to overcapacity and (b) customers demand more and more streamlined services. Although costs for technology are consistently decreasing, our industry is generally considered to have been slow to adopt digital approaches. Of course, companies collaborate across company borders, mostly through emails and networks; but isn’t it extremely inefficient and unscalable, especially in times where this could be automated to be done within seconds instead of days? 

What holds SMEs back from digital collaboration? 

We have noticed that especially small and medium-sized companies are either stuck in their traditional mindset or simply don’t know how to start with digital collaboration. Why is that so and how do companies overcome this conundrum? 

Companies are afraid to share their data 

People have to overcome their traditional industry mindset first, as a highly competitive attitude makes collaboration with competitors exceedingly difficult. Most companies don’t want to share their data because they think it’s their secret and crucial for their business – but most “data” is non-sensitive. Consider container movements, position updates forecasts and contact information of local agents. Of course, crucial information about e.g., my commercial terms with my vendors should not be openly shared! However, sharing operational data means exchanging information that you can leverage to increase service offerings, internal processes and ultimately create quotations in less time. 

Even if companies are willing to collaborate, they don’t know how to get started 

Lack of existing data standards, limited capacity or scary data security questions – the list of potential challenges of data sharing is long (as for every new project!) and only a limited number of people in logistics have “been there, done that”. 

However, in the end, it comes down to what you want to achieve/solve in the first place: How do you get your customers love working with you? How do you create quotations in less time to win more business? We suggest defining your most important targets and metrics first, and reverse engineer a good solution from there. 

Now: How can you get started? 

To get started with data sharing, finding out what you want in the first place is only the beginning of a long journey. To make it a little bit easier for you, try to answer the questions below for your own business (take a screenshot or copy into a word doc): 

-What are my main pain points?

-What is particularly crucial for my customers?  

-What data describes the problem the best? 

-How well is my data organized? 

-What data is non-sensitive? 

-What additional data do I need? 

-Who has it? How can I get that data? 

-Who (of my partners) would need my data to become better? 

-Does it make sense to work with them? 

-What integrations and/or technology would that require? 

There is no one-size-fits all solution as you can see! It’s about you and your specific business model. Only after you’re able to answer these questions you can think about the next steps: design use-cases/MVPs (Minimum Viable Products), and test setups and data integrations. 

With missing IT capabilities or resources, building integrations can oftentimes be hard because you need to manage numerous data standards and interfaces. In most cases, a 3rd party technology provider can help you as a connector in the industry. Such technology companies can not only translate different data formats into one language, but they also anonymize data to increase trust and reduce perceived risks for you: You still own your data and it is 100% up to you what part of your data you want to share to reach a certain goal. Moreover, working with 3rd party technology providers has another advantage for you: they help you develop a proof of concept at low costs! 

Of course, it requires a certain level of commitment, but working with a connector lets you test with a well-defined problem and a limited group of stakeholders to develop a workable solution. For freight forwarders, it could be the integration with a selected list of carriers to enable instant online quotes/ bookings for their customers. For equipment managers it could be integrating their equipment management system with a tracking provider to automatically receive container status updates such as pickups, drop-offs, delay warnings and ETAs. 

Once the proof of concept has been demonstrated, the collaboration could then be expanded by bringing in additional stakeholders or addressing related problems with similar approaches. Being able to create quotations faster is only one challenge – several other topics including internal organization, equipment management or communication with external stakeholders can also be targeted with an open mindset and the courage to test new things. We encourage you to start right now! 

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Christian Roeloffs is the founder and CEO of Container xChange – an online platform that creates transparency on supply and demand in container logistics. More than 300 container users and owners such as Seaco and Kuehne+Nagel use the neutral online platform to find SOC containers in 2500 locations and identify partners to avoid empty container repositioning. 

digital

3 Guiding Principles for Digital Transformation Success

Many companies have adopted digital technology to transform their business. But the transition can be a challenging process, and studies show that digital transformation projects often fail to reach company expectations.
This happens for a variety of reasons, says J. Eduardo Campos, co-founder with his wife, Erica, of Embedded-Knowledge Inc. (www.embedded-knowledge.com) and co-author with her of From Problem Solving to Solution Design: Turning Ideas into Actions.
“It’s often due to ineffective communication between the IT department and business teams,” Campos says. “But overall it really comes down to an inability to problem-solve and a tendency to lose sight of teamwork and the big-picture business plan.
“To have a successful digital transformation depends greatly on employees working together, but too many organizations are siloed, thus hampering the communication and creating obstacles in the process.”
Campos offers three ways company leaders can deal with problems in digital transformation:
Define the essential problem. Campos says digital transformational programs fail when company leaders don’t grasp the root of the problem they hope digital transformation will solve. “Beware of solving the symptoms instead of the problem,” Campos says. “To define the essential problem, you first need to step back, reflect, and clearly define what you are trying to address. Detaching yourself from a problem and trying to see it from a different perspective, you then will have a better view of how things interact with each other. There are often multiple layers to why a problem exists, so ask a series of whys that drill down to the answer.”
Design solutions. Once the problem is identified, setting goals and assessing options come next. ”It’s not unusual to find yourself in a situation where the problems you identified are part of a dynamic environment, affected by constant changes that require you to revisit your goals and options regularly,” Campos says. “This is where technology and software can be very helpful in making sure everything is being tracked appropriately without any information getting lost. in addition to technology, using risk management concepts can be a very effective way to help keep consistency throughout the solution design process.”
Engage stakeholders. Digital transformation often represents a massive change for personnel. Campos says it’s vital for the decision-makers to craft a stakeholder engagement plan that addresses all aspects of a recommended solution. “Clearly identify whom will be impacted by the solution, either positively or negatively, and how to handle stakeholder reactions,” Campos says. “You want them to be willing to commit to your recommendation because they indeed want it, not because you are selling it to them. And when you are influencing the decision-making process, be sure to show your stakeholders your appreciation of varying opinions.”
“Achieving success in digital transformation brings together people, process, and technology,” Campos says. “Many businesses never get far past the launch point of their digital transformation because that triad of people, process and technology isn’t in sync, and problems that could have been solved were not.”
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J. Eduardo Campos is co-author with his wife, Erica, of From Problem Solving to Solution Design: Turning Ideas into Actions. Campos spent 13 years at Microsoft, first as a cybersecurity advisor, then leading innovative projects at the highest levels of government in the U.S. and abroad.  His consulting firm, Embedded Knowledge Inc. (www.embedded-knowledge.com), works with organizations and entrepreneurs developing customized business strategies and forming partnerships focused on designing creative solutions to complex problems.