Online sales are booming, especially during the gift-giving seasons around Christmas and Easter.
Germans spent 300 euros per capita on Black Friday and Cyber Monday alone in 2017. In the U.S., every third gift purchased for Easter is ordered online – a gargantuan task for the underlying logistics infrastructure. "Bees" can help.
Rich growth at Easter
People who thought that Black Friday and Cyber Monday were phenomena limited to the U.S. surely rubbed their eyes over the 2017 Christmas season: German retailers, for example, estimated sales over the cyber weekend at 1.7 billion euros, or around 300 euros per person on average. The U.S. saw sales of around seven billion dollars over the same period. Easter is expected to deliver sales of 18 billion euros to American retailers, some 30 percent of it online.
Growing online sales quickly reveal bottlenecks in the logistics and can result in massive delivery delays at peak times. In response, some logistics service providers establish maximum acceptance limits, while others put more vehicles on the streets. 25,000 additional delivery personnel were hired for the 2017 Christmas season in Germany.
Preparing the IT for the rush
It isn't just the staff that has to be ready to handle online business; the technology has to be, too. To cope with peak IT loads, many companies rely on additional cloud resources for sales, marketing, and e-commerce. Web sites have to be able to handle rushes and, above all, load quickly: according to Akamai, if a page doesn't load within three seconds, nearly 50 percent of mobile users already abandon it. Online shoppers have much less patience, a fact that companies have to take into account. Other increasingly important factors include an individual customer approach; fast, personal customer service; and – of course – logistics transparency, so customers always know where their packages are at the moment.
For a better customer experience
This real-time processing of data presents opportunities to delight customers with personalized service experiences. What's more, smart data analytics make it possible to optimize logistics flows and avoid mistakes, which also have positive impacts on costs and competitiveness.
Avoiding black holes in your logistics
Companies that transport their wares around the globe – whether food, cars, medical products, or luxury goods – often don't know the exact current location of their property or the conditions it is subject to. One consequence: losses of 850 billion euros annually due to interruptions in the cold chain for food and medical products. As a result of missing information, 30 percent of all deliveries worldwide fail to reach their destinations on time and, according to the FBI, freight theft causes a whopping 30 billion euros in damages each year. All of this can be avoided.
Bees support the logistics
The answer is the Internet of Things (IoT). For instance, T-Systems and Roambee provide support through their solution for transport monitoring. The system, which consists of specialized hardware and a cloud-based application, is scalable, can be deployed quickly, and enables the monitoring and analysis of goods in transit in real time - worldwide. The bulk of the work is performed by "bees": portable, transmitter-equipped sensors that are affixed to goods and assets. In addition to their exact location, they also measure all relevant data such as temperature, vibration, light, and moisture. If defined thresholds are exceeded or a specific route is left, the system raises the alarm. The technology even helped Schmitz Cargobull, a trailer manufacturer, to solve a series of fuel thefts. The data can be used in a variety of systems, depending on the integrated IT environment and the specific objectives.
One solution for many platforms
The data collected by the bees can be collected and analyzed on a variety of IoT platforms. In addition to Deutsche Telekom's IoT platform, for example, SAP users can also process the harvested data directly in their ERP environments.
The future is smart
The digitalization of retail is also progressing in the areas of automation and artificial intelligence (AI): Amazon Go, for example, is testing the smart use of cameras in its retail outlets to enable payment through facial recognition. German supermarket chains are also testing AI-supported systems that make shopping more individual and more convenient.
Digitalization continues to make inroads in retail and logistics. Good reason for companies to take a closer look at solutions for the IoT. And better sooner than later.