DELIVER Insights report – e-Commerce and Logistics: The Evolving Journey

The e-commerce and logistics industry is undergoing remarkable change: in the way we do business; in our response to unprecedented challenges; and in our understanding of the industry’s role in the future of our planet. DELIVER’s latest  report – e-Commerce & Logistics: The Evolving Journey explores the current and future industry trends that will also be discussed in 52 content sessions at the DELIVER 2022 event, which is taking place in Amsterdam, on June 8-9, when some of the most influential thought leaders in e-commerce and logistics will be presenting and discussing their ideas about the subjects that will define the industry’s future.

The in-depth report includes data from a variety of trusted sources across the industry, and invaluable insights from a range of influential voices in e-commerce, logistics and retail.

  • The global impetus towards greater diversity, equity and inclusion;

  • The myriad ways in which digitisation and automation continue to revolutionise our business methodologies;

  • The thrilling new frontier of technological innovation, driven by AI, VR and AR; and

  • The importance of viable sustainability, and its centrality in our understanding of climate crisis solutions.

“I am excited to announce the release of our first DELIVER Insights report, in advance of the DELIVER 2022 event next month in Amsterdam. The report is an informative and engaging discussion of some of our industry’s most important challenges and developments: diversity and inclusion, technological innovation, and our role in protecting the environment. I hope you’ll agree that the report is not only a fascinating and enjoyable read, but that it might also serve as an inspiring conversation starter alongside all the incredible content sessions around these subject areas that we have scheduled for DELIVER 2022. We can’t wait to see you all there,” said DELIVER CEO & Founder Stephane Tomczak.

Founded in 2015, DELIVER is Europe’s premier community for e-commerce and logistics. With our unique hosted buyer platform and audience of C-suite executives, we deliver matchmaking opportunities to the highest quality players in logistics and retail.

Digitisation, Automation, Tech innovation – at the core

The report says that a 2019, pre-pandemic, pre-supply chain crisis white paper urged that “leadership in the constantly changing world of e-commerce calls for innovative solutions that challenge conventional business models.”

Three years later, the industry’s ability to react swiftly and coherently to global shifts in consumer needs and behaviour is even under greater scrutiny. The new reality is forcing companies to adopt new strategies to keep goods moving.”  In order to ensure that levels of demand are predicted with accuracy and satisfied with alacrity, AI-driven data analysis and optimisation, goods-to-person automation, and AR (augmented reality) warehouse solutions are all being integrated into, or replacing, traditional delivery pathways.

“Our industry has a history of non-stop improvement and optimisation – driven by decades of being a ‘cost centre’ that needs to be squeezed, optimised and reduced,” says Ian Jindal, Editor in Chief of DeliveryX and CEO of RetailX Research. “When we interviewed the top 50 grocers across Europe, their consensus was that the pace of innovation will not let up. ‘This is what we do,’ said one, reflecting the truism that innovation is not a one-off effort, but truly a cultural, non-stop activity within the best businesses.”

The report also argues that the new technologies are “here to stay, and are swiftly being embraced by an expanding user base”, with “over 20 million active users will leverage Artificial Intelligence for augmented reality usage in 2022… the increased data flowing from and through AR/VR devices, combined with AI/ML (Machine Learning), create a hotbed for both prediction and automation of worker-facing and backend systems.”

Shopify recommends that for suppliers, “using data and technology to make smarter inventory management decisions should be your priority in the immediate future” and that cloud-based supply chain management software is now an indispensable tool companies need to be using to future-proof their supply chains.

The report’s authors further say that the “cutting edge of this Fourth Industrial Revolution – Industry 4.0 – is propelling businesses towards previously unimagined technological frontiers”.

Robotics and drone technology will have a significant impact on the supply chains function: “self-configuring modular robots”, and soft robotics “capable of moving in fluid ways, adapting to their surroundings, and sensing more effectively than traditional robots”, will revolutionise the role automation plays in the delivery network,” according to the DELIVER report.

The utilisation of drone fleets, and a new generation of underwater drones, is expected to nudge governments towards adapting existing regulation “as the technology continues to make a case for its utility at scale.” The pandemic has significantly accelerated the growth of drone-based delivery solutions, and “demand for contactless deliveries stemming from the impacts of COVID-19 have caused projections for global drone package deliveries to grow from $0.68 billion to $0.99 billion… with the market expected to raise to $4.4 billion by 2025.”

The DELIVER report concludes that “the technological changes impacting human life are creating a new kind of consumer with a sophisticated and uncompromising vision regarding the right to nurture and express their agency and identity. The advertising and public relations company Dentsu contends that alternate realities, new financial models of ownership, a ‘conscious decoupling’ of economic growth from environmental impact, and a radical re- imagining of the self as a shifting multitude defying categorisation are all generational
sea-changes carrying an irresistible momentum”.  “What we see most profoundly is a great decentralisation, powered by virtual economies, crypto-currency, climate anxiety and distributed workforces,” they explain. “A shift towards networks of choice, passion, collective ownership and mutual reward.”

The Urgency of Sustainability

The report also points out that the e-commerce and logistics industries have a crucial role to play in not only reducing GHG emissions, but also by providing innovative and sustainable solutions that support the circular economy, reduce the waste of resources and packaging materials, and prevent harmful, non-biodegradable substances entering the environment.

There is widespread consumer frustration not only about waste management practices, but also regarding the lack of provision for enabling the customer to prolong the life of their purchases: “78% of EU citizens think manufacturers should make it easier to repair products, especially digital devices… Sentimental value may reprieve an item from the bin or council recycling facility but, for many items, end of useful life means landfill.”

The association Ecommerce Europe advises that in addition to addressing the existential threat facing the planet, investment in
viable, innovative solutions can have positive, long-term economic impacts: “The growth of e-commerce should be considered an opportunity to structurally shift to more sustainable retail and consumption practices, as well as an opportunity to use the digitalisation of our society to make the transition to a more sustainable economy.”

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