Last week I had the opportunity to speak with Ken Fleming, President at Logistyx Technologies. In our conversation, Ken spoke about some of the findings from a recent survey Logistyx conducted on cross-border holiday spending, as well as some larger trends around the state of parcel shipping.
I asked Ken to give me some deeper insights on a few key points. First and foremost, why have supply chain technologies weathered the Covid storm better than other industries, and what has it meant for parcel shipping? Second, how does the ongoing capacity crunch impact the holiday season? Third, what role does cross-border shopping play for the holiday season? Fourth, what are some industry-specific trends for parcel shipping? And finally, what can retailers do to get ahead of the looming returns season?
Below are some key points from our discussion as well as the full video interview.
The State of Parcel Shipping
The initial reaction at the beginning of the pandemic was immediate caution as uncertainty set it. Most companies froze all activity as they did not know the extent of the pandemic and the long-term ramifications. This meant that a lot of companies decided to cut costs before understanding the impact that the pandemic would have on parcel shipping and its corresponding technologies. As everyone began working from home, and shopping from home, the e-commerce response was the reverse: it surged. In a very short period of time, the Logistyx customer base went from “hold everything” to “we need to move quickly, and we need access to better carriers, faster systems, and better e-commerce technology.” The companies that had a program to deal with supply chain disruption were in much better shape than those that didn’t.
The Holiday Season
Consumers are looking to shop early and shop globally. The news is reporting that supply chains are going to be disrupted this holiday season, so more and more consumers are starting early. In response to that, the smart retailers are assessing what they have in stock and what they will be marketing. These retailers are making sure that consumers know what inventory is available so they can shop to match their needs rather than buying something that is simply available. Cross-border services also remove the dependency on local providers.
Retailers need to review the cross-border services that they are going to use. One option is to use a cross-border delivery 3PL provider. Companies like FedEx, UPS, and Pitney Bowes offer this service. In those services, the retailer needs to understand what will be provided and how to present it to the consumer. The last thing a consumer wants is to be surprised when the item they bought will also be subject to duties at the end. The key is to make sure all the costs are transparent up front during the purchasing process. This means showing the consumer what the total landed cost is, enabling the consumer to make the decision of whether import duties or shipping costs impact their decision to buy. From a technology perspective, the key is to link customer systems into the carriers, as it’s the carrier’s service that needs to be passed on to the consumer.
Manufacturing: manufacturers are trying to create or enhance their online presence of direct-to-consumer business. Brands are now putting up their own shoppable websites and doing their own fulfillment. While manufacturers have historically relied on LTL and TL shipments to their distributors or retailers, they are now implementing parcel deliveries for the first time. This poses many challenges, but the e-commerce surge is making this more of a necessity.
Retailers: it’s all about consumer experience. E-commerce is more important than ever, and retailers need to understand how they can enhance that experience. Fulfillment now plays into this, as retailers are bringing the shipping process into the online experience. Retailers need to know which service a customer wants (same day, overnight, weekend, etc.) and give transparency into the costs for that particular fulfillment option. Retailers are also giving visibility to track and trace in real-time so consumers know when they will receive their order.
The other retail trend is making the returns process easier. Retailers need a clear returns strategy and one that makes the process clear and easy for consumers to follow. The last thing a consumer wants is a difficult or complicated returns process, because they might not come back. Are returns free or do they charge? Are charges known at time of purchase? How easy is the returns process? Is the return label provided or requested? If requested, is it easy or difficult to obtain? These are the questions that retailers need to think about ahead of time.
About Logistyx Technologies
Founded in May 2017, Logistyx is a transportation execution solution provider focusing on multi-carrier shipping on a global level. The company saw an opportunity in the market to address the growing demand to support the exponential growth in parcel shipping to support e-commerce growth worldwide. To kick start the company, Logistyx acquired 3 businesses: Agile Network, ADSI, and Pantechnik. Agile Network was a federation of businesses that specialized in sales and implementation of enterprise shipping technology in North America. ADSI was a shipping software company focused on the SMB market in North America. And Pantechnik International was a UK based shipping software company focused on international markets to support a carrier network outside of North America. A year later, it acquired Transparix, a Dutch based shipping software platform that added more International clients and product functionality around Control Tower and Business Intelligence.