Logistics for e-commerce: using IT effectively

Stefan Seufert, CTO/Vorstand EIKONA AG
Man in white shirt types credit card data on his laptop while holding it in the other hand

Online business is booming, and so is logistics for e-commerce. This means service providers have to integrate their processes as deeply as possible into their customers' websites in order to remain the first-choice provider. After all, customers buy whatever is easy.


Shopping anytime and anywhere is becoming more and more a habit among Germans. E-commerce sales increase from one quarter to the next, bucking the trend of declining retail sales during the pandemic. Logistics service providers who want to capitalise on this growth have to closely tailor their offerings to their customers' products and services. To do that, they have to:

  • Link the warehouse management system (WMS) to the online shop.
  • Automatically generate transport orders in the checkout process.
  • Provide the shop infrastructure themselves.
  • Integrate their own processes into the sales process.

Logistics for e-commerce has many facets. Online retailers are most impressed by providers who support true multichannel logistics with complete IT integration. That is because online shoppers want one thing above all else: to wrap up their purchase as easily as possible.


IT integration

Logistics for e-commerce helps to sell

Logistics is playing an increasingly important role in online customers' purchase decisions. It is often more important for the delivery to meet their expectations than to arrive by the fastest possible means. Buyers want to find their preferred option among many different transport options. To make this possible, the logistics service provider can integrate its operational systems directly into the store system using plug-ins.


Process integration

Support in the backend

For online retailers' processes to be efficient, shipment processing has to be stringent, transport prices have to be calculated directly, and labels have to be printed automatically. This works like clockwork for courier, express, and parcel services, but still has a long way to go in freight forwarding networks. Granted, some alliances have developed sophisticated two-man delivery processes. However, automatic processes are far from established. The problem lies in insufficient integration, from price calculations to support for downstream operations. Luckily, this dilemma could be easily solved with application programming interfaces (APIs).


Complete integration

Logistics expert plus fulfilment equals store provider

A logistics provider who can overcome the limitations of physical goods movements has the potential to become online retailers' dream partner. This is because, as data suppliers, asset managers and store operators, service providers are increasingly taking on roles in which they add even more value. It starts with inventory management, which uses artificial intelligence (AI) to anticipate returns and include these items as being available for sale. It continues with the parallel maintenance of the digital inventory, i.e. the item descriptions that are displayed depending on availability. And it goes as far as operating the entire online store, which leaves strategic purchasing as just about the only thing the online retailer has to do. A logistics provider that identifies entirely with its customers' business will fast become an indispensable store provider that enables business across all channels: the multichannel strategy.

Conclusion

Symbiotic relationships in e-commerce

Sales and shipping are increasingly becoming two sides of the same coin in e-commerce. After all, flexible and efficient logistics is an increasingly important part of the value proposition and buying experience. This gives logistics service providers an opportunity to connect directly with their customers. If this is done properly, close integration will end up having three winners: merchants, logistics providers – and customers.


Stefan Seufert
Stefan Seufert
CTO

As a design guru, the software developer delves into logistics service providers' requirements like no other. He is passionate about exchanging information securely and efficiently and thus speeding up the physical logistics process.


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