Where’s the Shakeup in Ecommerce Logistics?
Suitsupply, a menswear brand founded in Amsterdam in 2000, like many retailers is diving headlong into ecommerce. About 30 percent of the company’s total revenue comes from online sales.
But Suitsupply’s head of logistics wonders where the transformational, disruptive innovations are that can help retailers chive greater efficiencies and earnings.
“A few years ago, nobody ever heard of Airbnb, Uber, and a little bit longer ago Facebook did not basically exist,” said Hans Hulsinga, in a recent podcast. “And those companies have really changed the industry they were in. And what I just don’t see that in logistics.”
Instead, Hulsinga sees innovations that make incremental changes in logistics. He recently toured the port of Rotterdam, his home town, and didn’t see many changes from when he first stared in logisitcs years ago.
“What if we would have like an Uber type of service in logistics?” he said. “That would be a real changer.”
The biggest logisitcs innovators, for Hulsinga, are online retailers like Amazon. Press stories have abounded on how Amazon is leasing its own airplanes and taking steps to take control over its own deliveries. There was even a report that Amazon might have tried to take over UPS.
“A few years ago, Amazon was not seen as a player that would set up their own delivery service,” said Hulsinga. “And now, I think, it’s a very viable option. So if you talk about a life-changing service within the logistics industry, maybe Amazon could be the example.”
Retailer like Suitsupply that prusue a bricks-and-clicks model face the challenges associated with omnichannel retailing. Suitsupply is committed to developing both its online and traditional businesses.
“We share inventory between retail and ecommerce, and so that helps us in managing the inventory,” said Hulsinga. “We use our stores in our delivery process, so if you order something online you can have it shipped same day to a few stores. If you order something and have it delivered at your home, and you’d like to return it to the store, that’s also possible, and you get your money back then as well.”
The company is also implmenting an initiative called Uber RUSH which provides deliveries to customers in stores within one hour of items that are ou tof stock.
Retailers like Suitsupply see brick-and-mortar stores as an important part of their overall strategies. Suitsupply is planning to double the number of its stores in the United States in the next year.
“Our web store figures are better in countries where we have stores than in countries where we don’t have stores,” said Hulsinga. “Some of our stores are a true marketing vehicle as well. We just opened one in San Francisco, which is a beautiful store. I just visited our store in Shanghai in China and it’s a fantastic store. So I truly believe that for Suitsupply, this is a golden combination.”