Thumbs up while e-commerce is the trendy #, logistics is the key to e-commerce beyond conversion. Today as ever, literally, it depends on an efficient logistics system in place for any business to profit at the end of the game, by all means.
In the heydays, the rail business was announced out in the old western of the USA as “the” progress that was arriving. A century ahead, one said in Harvard that if would be said the “transportation service” was arriving instead of being sold as “the progress” itself, its concept would last longer as a means of advancement, improvement of life quality and a healthy economy. Too much of interlaced thinking so here is a simple rationale:
Rail, truck, cargoship and air cargo planes transport things, not ideas. Things (including the Internet of things) depend upon humans still and until it changes. Now, speaking about e-commerce or the so-called trendy business we tend to jump in so easily today, I just mentioned humans again, the starting and ending point of everything.
Who wants to say “ops!” after three clicks and a checkout, a confirmation email that your credit card has been debited and you should now expect to trace your order and your order simply does not arrive in time, or worst, arrive wrong?
In 1998 I acquired my domain www.luispeaze.com and my first online shopping experience was through Amazon and I lived in the Bay Area of San Francisco, Ca. Until then I had an accountable experience with shipping & freight companies doing business alternatively with UPS and FedEx as well as truck companies and cargo shipping from Brazil to North America, Europe and Australasia. Around that time, my idiosyncrasy was that UPS tended to be a no-frills service while FedEx could throw in more and later on I discovered that was just a wrong idea I had in mind and efficiency was pretty much the same from both companies. Price, though, was better using UPS than the other; the truck driver pick up/deliver person wearing brown and yellow also was more friendly than the one wearing blue and white. And now I can see that yes there was an idea behind the logistic businesses I was paying for.
Regardless of wherever I want to end up here or coming from, one thing: in the US, I always had my stuff delivered, whether I was the one shipping out or expecting goods at my door. And I must say that it was impossible not to compare with my experience in my home country, Brazil, where the good experience has been always a good surprise, that is most of the shipping falls between being an ordeal or an unknown ending. Seriously.
Last week I used a premium service to ship a parcel from Rio to São Paulo paying for two days service, while I was not able to trace daily basis and only got online updated information in the fourth day, the very day the parcel was delivered. Not mentioning that I had to go in person over the counter to hand the parcel in the first place. On the same token, an online purchase of a print copy of Alvidia, Yet Another Horizon, paid a second day delivery through UPS took exactly two days to be delivered (it was a birthday gift to a very special friend, has to be on time), and I was able to follow up my book which was produced by Barnes & Noble in La Vergne, TN, traveled across the USA all the way to Toluca Lake, Los Angeles.
Little earlier, in mid 90´s, when I had a small manufacturing business with a branch in San Diego, Ca and the main office in Seaford, NSW, shipping active wear components of the lifestyle outdoor industry and I used expensively TNT Express I never had an issue with delivery either in Australian territory or Asia, UK and the US, it was like to be using UPS or FedEx off the branch in San Diego, or the other way around.
In the meantime, in Europe, today, my three decades friend Brahim Jarmache VP Agent Relation of JAS Forwarding Inc who does B2B tells me that, in regarding the business-to-customers market, “the price is very high due to a portion to bear with unhappy customers”.
Although his personal opinion was given informally and considering the wide spectrum of the subject, this observer notes one thing: as the e-commerce is a market changing rapidly, so it is crucial to be aware of current trends in order to remain competitive – this is a motto for the ones behind a counter, that is the logistic players – while the end consumer will keep pushing for better price, better services (to a level of a babysitter care) and hassle-free system.
The big question is how to solve the equation: the more e-commerce grows – use of mobile apps and online stores lessening use of human hands to process first steps of orders – more warehousing and distribution centers (with labor force) are needed, thus how to increase scale gain on global market bearing high cost of infrastructure and multimodal logistic matrix?
One may suggest to break down the matter by a segment of market and then analyze each perspective of business. Why so in Europe more and more the approach multipurpose shipping, single harbor card and the idea of a unified “European sea” is growing as ever? If we put in perspective that still 90% of the good around the world travels by cargoship? In the end, is there a difference of B2B to B2C? In the daily basis of course there is a huge difference, but what about in the reports and projections of Capital Ventures players?
Not by accident American aviators are angry that the parcel-delivery companies have turned to third-party cargo airlines to help make up for a shortage of aircraft capacity. The Independent Pilots Association claims pilots operate a system chronically short on aircraft and strained to the breaking point.
Far from completing the subject, we can hear coming back to the future an old song on track, as the railroad business is growing (example: giant GE Transportation implementing new plants in many countries of the world and launching new classes of locomotive) and playing an important role again, bringing in the idea of simplicity (although high-tech) and a cost-effective system, to say the least before we dive into a romantic recollection of the progress is arriving.
And I wont´ dare to answer that question, if logistic is better in America than in anywhere else.