Guest contribution • 01.02.2021

Real-time transparency for supply chains thanks to big data

More efficiency and lower costs for retailers thanks to precise ETAs

More than ever before, retailers have to be ahead of their competition when it comes to filling orders and responding to customer requirements. The global hunger for consumption reached a new high in 2019, with retail sales of USD 25 trillion. And even though this upward trend was interrupted at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, it will continue over the next ten years.

More and more people are consuming ever larger volumes of goods, and buyer preferences and behaviour are also changing. Today's buyers expect a total ubiquity of goods from retailers – at all times. Online deliveries are supposed to arrive the next day, and items should be easy to return. Customer service is expected to be available 24/7, on all channels. And customers want to know the status of their orders.

A man with glasses and suit laughs at the camera
Thomas Spieker, Director Central Europe, Shippeo
Source: Shippeo

Delivery tracing is becoming more important

Most online merchants offer the option of tracking orders and checking when the delivery will arrive. This aspect, which has long been established practice in the consumer segment, has not been possible in the B2B world for a long time, even though knowing a truck's probable arrival time (ETA = estimated time of arrival) is an important indicator for minimising waiting times at the loading dock and improving capacity planning.

Even though it is already standard in the B2C segment, real-time supply chain visibility was not available within B2B for a long time. This was partly due to the sheer size and heterogeneous nature of the market. Europe alone has around 600,000 logistics providers that use up to 600 telematics systems to trace the position and other data of their vehicles. Also, until a few years ago it was simply not possible to set up such a complex tracking system due to a lack of data and affordable computing capacities.

Artificial intelligence: calculating ETAs in real time

Using modern algorithms, artificial intelligence and big data, ETAs can now be predicted and communicated so precisely that possible delays no longer lead to long waiting times at the loading dock. The French company Shippeo offers a platform solution that translates this scenario (which is well known from the B2C world) into the B2B context on the basis of AI. Delivery dates are calculated with an accuracy of up to 98%. 

Enormous leverage for retailers

This technology is particularly useful for the retail sector. In supermarkets, staff expect a truck with new merchandise to arrive at a specific hour. If the delivery is significantly delayed, they call the warehouse, which in turn calls the freight forwarder that tries to reach the driver. This is a very time-consuming and inefficient process. But if the tracking system informs the supermarket of the delay and the expected arrival time early on, such calls can become a thing of the past. This, in turn, leads to a general increase in efficiency. Even if calls are needed, customer service is now better able to respond to inquiries using such a system, increasing customer satisfaction

A warehouse with many empty loading docks for trucks...
Source: CreativeNature.nl Rudmer Zwerver

Real-time supply chain visibility with machine learning

The seamless tracking of deliveries requires data to be collected every three to five minutes. Added to this is storage data and traffic information that is used to calculate the speed of the truck. This data is obtained from several telematics providers in Europe. The normal resting times and loading times at the dock must also be taken into account. Moreover, external data sources (e.g. weather or traffic jam forecasts) are required to calculate an exact ETA from the real-time data. Ultimately, data from up to 500 different sources are needed for this purpose. 

Processing the large volumes of collected data is the classic use case for machine learning technologies. All of that data, particularly GPS and traffic data, is first aggregated and (in the case of Shippeo) transferred to a proprietary ETA algorithm, which analyses it and calculates the expected arrival time of the delivery. Over time, the algorithm learns and refines its forecasts. For example, if traffic jams are common on a certain section of the route during a particular time of the day, this information will be considered in future calculations. The algorithm also gradually learns to better estimate the loading and unloading times at different stations. In many cases, an exact ETA can be provided one day before the delivery. 

Huge blue silos
Source: Unsplash / Waldemar Brandt

Collaboration and the break-up of data silos create added value for all

As in other industries, the best way to solve big challenges that affect multiple stakeholders is to collaborate, work together and exchange knowledge, data and insights. The collaboration between all of the players has a considerable bearing on efficiency increases, the rationalisation of processes, the acceleration of innovation and finding solutions to other challenges in the industry sector. It is important to break down the silos in the different companies and to integrate data sets on one platform. This creates maximum benefits for all partners in the supply chain

Author: Thomas Spieker, Shippeo

related articles:

popular articles:

Thumbnail-Photo: FedEx plans to test autonomous drone cargo delivery with Elroy Air...
25.04.2022   #e-commerce #logistic systems

FedEx plans to test autonomous drone cargo delivery with Elroy Air

FedEx and Elroy Air work to launch test flights aimed at middle-mile delivery in 2023

FedEx Express is teaming up with California Bay Area-based Elroy Air, the company building the first end-to-end autonomous vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aerial cargo system. As a first of its kind agreement in the U.S., FedEx Express ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Visibility and control are consumers’ priorities for last-mile delivery...
25.03.2022   #customer satisfaction #services

Visibility and control are consumers’ priorities for last-mile delivery

Consumer demand: tracking deliveries via GPS and redirecting deliveries

Anyline announced findings of its “Last-Mile Delivery: Customer Perception Report 2022.” The survey, conducted on behalf of Anyline by Researchscape, highlights the major pain points of last-mile delivery that have surfaced since the ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Blue Yonder: Most consumers willing to delay deliveries if its more...
04.05.2022   #sustainability #coronavirus

Blue Yonder: Most consumers willing to delay deliveries if it's more sustainable

Survey finds 86% of consumers willing to wait longer for their orders if it helps the environment, 44% say their interest in shopping sustainably has increased since the start of the pandemic

Blue Yonder has released findings from its 2022 Consumer Sustainability Survey, which revealed retail consumer preferences related to sustainable shopping habits. The survey found that more than three-quarters (86%) of consumers are willing to delay ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Environmentally conscious aroma for your shipping...
09.06.2022   #e-commerce #sustainability

Environmentally conscious aroma for your shipping

How to make your logistics more sustainable

Is your lunch still missing that certain something? With the addition of a few herbs, your dish can develop an aromatic flavor and turn your menu into a feast. The right flavor also plays an important role in the recipe of your logistics, so that ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Home pickup for convenient ecommerce returns...
16.03.2022   #customer satisfaction #services

Home pickup for convenient ecommerce returns

Narvar service available in ten major metros in the U.S. including San Francisco, NY, LA and Chicago

Narvar announced the rollout of its Home Pickup service, a carrier-agnostic returns service that allows shoppers to schedule a courier to pick up return packages at their homes. More than 70 retailers, including DSW and Ann Taylor, piloted the ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Glory expands presence to support growth in Poland...
14.04.2022   #logistics #cash management

Glory expands presence to support growth in Poland

Glory expands its direct sales & services presence in Eastern Europe to support growth in Poland

Glory has announced continued expansion, with the opening of a direct sales office in Warsaw. Glory Global Solutions (Poland) LLC will capitalise on growth in the Polish market specifically in retail sector. ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Robomart signs deal with Unilever to launch The Ice Cream Shop Robomarts...
17.05.2022   #Tech in Retail #smartphone

Robomart signs deal with Unilever to launch "The Ice Cream Shop" Robomarts

Pilot partnership introduces ice cream delivery – arrives in as little as two minutes

Robomart, the world’s first store-hailing service, has announced a partnership with Unilever, the world’s largest ice cream producer, under its virtual storefront, The Ice Cream Shop. Unilever will deploy a fleet of Ice Cream Robomarts ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Innovations in logistics from delivery to return...
11.05.2022   #Tech in Retail #logistics

Innovations in logistics from delivery to return

The new last mile: from orderable stores and smart packaging

Logistics on the so-called "last mile" can well tolerate clever solutions, the demand for orders is increasing and future-oriented, sustainable ideas are needed. This applies to delivery as well as transport packaging and the big issue of ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Serving customer expectations with fast delivery...
04.05.2022   #Tech in Retail #iXtenso videos

Serving customer expectations with fast delivery

Automated storage and retrieval system AutoStore @ NRF 2022

„Retail has truly changed,“ says Jon Schechter, Business Development Manager at AutoStore System in an interview at NRF 2022.The COVID pandemic has pushed e-commerce demand even further, customers expect fast and reliable ...

Thumbnail-Photo: The iXtenso editorial team was hungry ...
28.02.2022   #delivery #online food retailing

The iXtenso editorial team was hungry ...

... and tested the Gorillas and Flink delivery services

Food delivery services in city centers are picking up speed. Drivers with oversized backpacks on their backs are increasingly common, sometimes even late at night. Popular services promise to deliver the groceries ordered via app to your doorstep ...

Supplier

iXtenso - retail trends
iXtenso - retail trends
Celsiusstraße 43
53125 Bonn
Metapack
Metapack
Bahnhofstraße 37
53359 Rheinbach
EuroShop
EuroShop
Stockumer Kirchstraße 61
40474 Düsseldorf
GLORY Global Solutions (Germany) GmbH
GLORY Global Solutions (Germany) GmbH
Thomas-Edison-Platz 1
63263 Neu-Isenburg