E-commerce has been growing at 15%/year for some years. In 2020, online purchasing for physical products has grown by 53% as a result of confinements. To cope with these peaks in activity, the logistics and transport professions must invent new strategies to manage the "last mile". Read the interview with Alain Sebban, Managing Director of Crosslog, to find out what challenges need to be addressed in the wake of the e-commerce explosion.
The major challenge for the logistics and "last mile" sector is to keep up with this hypergrowth. Logistics and parcel delivery service providers must put in place organisations that are both extremely robust and superbly agile. Trade-offs between manpower and excessive automation to maintain flexibility, mobilisation of resources in record time in a market where volume predictability remains complicated, scalable IT tools and the ability to evolve logistics schemes are the guidelines for operational excellence that the market requires to satisfy the end customer.
What are your observations on the digitalisation of physical commerce?
Many companies have been forced to take the digital step. From now on, very different flows of goods must cross and combine. The traditional silo-based schemes where stocks are separated, with a wholesale or retail stock for physical sales and a stock dedicated to web orders, are outdated... We are in the era of the Omnichannel, the customer is at the centre of the game and we must address him wherever he is in record time. This requires a more agile allocation of stocks. If a product is in stock in a shop and out of stock on a platform, it must be delivered from the shop, following an online purchase. Implementing a "Ship from store" strategy means that web sales are not lost and unsold stock is reduced. It is therefore a question of rethinking all logistical operations to manage shipping points that are becoming more and more numerous.
The development of "Ship from store" makes transport plans more complex with the use of several last mile service providers. The rationalisation of costs and the management of deliveries require efficient and agile IT tools. At Crosslog, we provide our clients with a tailor-made transport plan, with different transport partners, thanks to a management tool that offers real-time traceability, returns management and an interface with all the players in the logistics chain. We also offer better negotiation of last-mile rates, which in e-commerce represent 50 to 70% of the overall logistics cost of a shipment.
What are the trends on the consumer side?
Online sales have become part of consumer habits with an increase in the average basket during 2020, whereas it had tended to fall in recent years. This is a sign of greater confidence among e-consumers at the time of purchase and also a major trend that reflects the increased share of "Millennials" among consumers, this young generation born in the Internet era buys online more often and with a higher average basket than their elders.
Consumers are increasingly demanding their delivery experience as a key part of overall online shopping satisfaction. Sellers must be able to offer the right delivery solutions according to their product type, customer profile and geographical area. The quality of the delivery depends both on the carrier used and on the responsiveness to the customer in case of delay or damage. The control of delivery data and their exploitation has become a major challenge to ensure customer satisfaction.
What are the innovations that make e-commerce easier?
At Crosslog, we develop our own IT tools to adapt to the needs and growth of our customers by constantly adding new functionalities to our "Crossdesk" IT tool and by expanding our logistics and transport solutions. For example, we have created a universal Point Relais card, a geolocation tool capable of mixing the networks of different service providers as well as our own shops. In France, there are 5 to 12,000 active points per Point Relais network, and our system provides better coverage of the territory to reach the end consumer as close as possible to his home.
We innovate to offer brands turnkey tools to quickly set up their "Click and Collect" service and propose plug-and-play modules to manage customer returns or implement customised tracking pages. Our solutions are compatible with the entire sales ecosystem and marketplaces to manage all sales on a single web portal. We are one of the few logistics companies that can integrate all of these solutions at the same time to offer a complete service with high added value.
What is your working philosophy at Crosslog?
We favour a human organisation built around our customers. Even with the best processes and the most innovative tools, logistics requires proximity and human responsiveness. This is reflected in our way of working: we encourage feedback on concrete problems. Our R&D unit is in constant contact with the field, we refuse to segment or divide up our approaches, and all of our managers and IT engineers regularly attend work placements to see the practical reality of our logistics platforms. We encourage this versatility and the permanent circulation of information within the company, which is a key to the involvement of each employee and the satisfaction of our customers.
What's the latest news?
To name just one, following the Brexit, e-commerce across the Channel has had a difficult year with complex customs clearance for each parcel. We are developing a cross-border offer with the United Kingdom to provide a door-to-door solution that will allow each shipment to pass through customs securely while ensuring fast delivery times at extremely competitive rates.