Drone delivery may still be for the future, but other advances are already there.

In December last, the Amazon Prime Air drone delivery trial took just 13 minutes to drop off an electronic device and a bag of popcorn to a British customer after the order was placed. The only human intervention?

A staff member who packed up the box transported by the drone. While this delivery was mainly to bring Amazon publicity, the event portends a new era of advanced logistics and e-commerce technologies. Consumers are as such thrilled by the experience of having their orders at their doorsteps just days after making the purchases.

A great deal of work goes behind achieving this high level of customer satisfaction though. It requires constant refinements to processing, tailored shipping and delivery mechanisms and the forging of critical connections with the right shipping partners.

At the end of the day, the business potential far outweighs the hassles — which is why logistics has grown into a $4 trillion-plus (Dh14.69 trillion-plus) industry. At the forefront of the logistics boom are new technologies making business faster, cheaper, and more customer-friendly.

Innovation lies at the crux of business development strategies, and which is highly apparent in the logistics domain. One very promising enabler, artificial intelligence, has the potential to make tomorrow’s supply chain completely autonomous.

A future where fleets use swarm algorithms to dramatically boost throughput and where mobile robots, wearable devices and machine learning combine to facilitate lightning-fast order fulfilment may come sooner than expected. The internet of Things (IoT) — that enables devices to communicate over the internet without human intervention — is a game changer, as it could provide a platform for e-brokers to link retailers to couriers and transporters with just one click.

These technologies can address major challenges such as handling bigger volumes and higher frequencies of small-sized shipments. Their prominence highlights the need for constant innovation and new business models for maximising the quality of logistics services and pushing home and business deliveries to the next frontier.

Logistics involves the handling of the way resources are obtained, stored and shipped to their target destinations through a system that varies in nature depending on the industry. Its effective management entails the identification of suppliers and distributors; the assessment of their accessibility and effectiveness; and the forging of relationships that offer the best economic returns.

While larger companies can afford to partner with several parties to meet demand, smaller enterprises nowadays do not have to engage with different organisations to wrestle with their e-commerce website logistics. Advanced technologies have levelled the playing field and are enabling smaller players to become more competitive.

Many amazing technologies are being adopted to usher in a new phase of productivity and profitability, which is, in turn, driving a new logistics boom. We are witnessing the click-and-collect era that is shaving delivery times from days to minutes and redefining consumerism as we know it.

E-commerce and logistics players will have to embrace these changes if they want to remain relevant.

Many of the recent innovations are providing glimpses of the future of logistics. Driverless vehicles, for one, offer enormous cost reductions. A recent study reveals that 42 per cent of manufacturers and retailers would like third-part logistics (3PL) providers to be more knowledgeable on driverless vehicles.

Nascent drone delivery services are also making waves across the logistics industry. Plus, IoT is opening up major possibilities for driving down waste and overall costs while increasing speed and accuracy.

A study shows that more than 25 per cent of 3PL companies are already using machine-to-machine technology and that almost half of respondents intend to adopt it. With regards to the impact of IoT, 47 per cent of polled 3PL firms expect the concept to revolutionise the business.

Computers, robots, mobilephones — these ubiquitous business tools were regarded as science fiction before their debut. Innovation has a reputation for erasing the word impossible in the business world.

True to form, new technologies are making what were once thought of as inconceivable logistics practices possible at a time when the fine line between e-commerce and retail is becoming thinner with each day.


This article originally published and written by Amir Hegazi via Gulfnews.