The logistics solution for e-commerce: a combination of hardware and software

The online business in Germany is booming. E-commerce revenues rose to around 53.4 billion euros in 2018. The rapidly increasing delivery traffic and the lack of infrastructure within the major cities also pose challenges for logistics, which is what makes online retailing possible in the first place. How can logistics cope with this change? Read why the optimal logistics solution for e-commerce is a combination of hardware and software.

Logistical processes are part of e-commerce

The relationship is undisputed: both trade and logistics belong to the family of services. Some retail groups even claim to essentially be logistics service providers. This point of view is particularly plausible from the perspective of e-commerce: here, the turnover is generated almost exclusively by typical logistics services, such as:

  • order picking,
  • consolidation,
  • packaging and
  • shipment.

Highly complex logistics software controls the associated processes.

E-commerce & logistics: hardware and software

Apart from the Internet, logistics is therefore the most important enabler of e-commerce. First of all, the right hardware is important here. This includes:

  • vehicles,
  • oller conveyors or
  • scanners.

However, software is also playing an increasingly important role. This, for example, involves the following aspects:

  • mapping of storage strategies,
  • optimized route planning for order pickers or
  • automatic selection of the most suitable CEP service provider.

While the internal processes between goods receipt and goods issue can be planned very well, the uncertainties especially might occur after the handover to the parcel service. These include:

  • diesel driving bans,
  • lack of drivers,
  • increasing traffic jams and
  • lack of possibilities to stop.

Although these are not primarily the problems of the shippers, in the medium and long term these problems will also result in shipping price increases that are relevant to competition.

Electromobility & micro-hubs: a solution for logistics?

All the more interesting are the approaches parcel service providers want to apply to meet the challenges on the last mile. Electric mobility—albeit a controversial issue—can play a central role here, because it can solve the problem of local pollutant and noise emissions.

The particularly low-noise electric motors also open up completely new perspectives for nighttime supply in urban areas: the transporters could fill the central micro-hubs during the night, which serve as the starting point for delivery to the final recipients.

During the day, the delivery could then be carried out by (electric) cargo bikes, which stop at "their" micro-hub several times a day and therefore can have smaller loading volumes and ranges.

In our technical article "Sustainable urban logistics: concepts against urban collapse" you can learn what concrete delivery concepts companies are already testing.

Joint micro-hubs as a solution

Mobile and stationary solutions are conceivable here: for example, parked trailers or empty shops. Perhaps we will also see multi-use approaches where a hub is shared by several parcel service providers.

It is then especially important to have intelligent future solutions that use sensors and software to inform each partner about the current occupancy and utilization of existing capacities. This shows that not only the hardware, but also the software has to be considered for setting up an optimal e-commerce solution.

More information

In addition to e-commerce, other factors such as the growth of cities and increasing traffic also pose challenges for logistics.