Inbound Logistics | April 2022

E-COMMERCE TURNS UP THE HEAT In 2020, COVID-19 kicked off an e-commerce bonanza that hasn’t let up yet. In 2021, market research service eMarketer forecast that e-commerce sales would reach $4.9 trillion that year (complete historical data won’t be available until the end of 2022). The growing market presents new opportunities for shippers—and new challenges. Kaufman argues that these changes can be seen as a chance for shippers to reimagine their supply chain, starting with demand planning. The trick is to have software in place to gain visibility into inventory and maximize customers’ purchasing experience. “Many companies see an enormous opportunity in direct-to-consumer, but they aren’t set up for it yet,” Kaufman says. “Using an order management system lets shippers make purchases and understand when they’re actually going to get the goods,” she adds. “It improves the entire experience all the way from planning and sourcing to fulfillment and consumption.” GNC, a health and nutrition brand, used enVista’s Unified Commerce Platform drop-ship feature to grow the array of products the company offered

Technology such as Dematic’s garment-on-hanger system stores, sequences, picks, and ships garments without removing them from hangers. The system helps shippers move apparel faster, reduces labor, and minimizes warehouse space.

“The rise in transportation demand leads to a rise in the need for capacity to haul that freight,” Lanyard says. “That means a need for transportation resources. We’ve seen shortages in those areas when demand spikes.” As a result of the turmoil, Lanyard says some shippers are seeing a 200% increase in their use of spot rates. He recommends using a transportation management system (TMS) as a tool to keep products traveling smoothly across the supply chain in today’s market conditions. A TMS can help manage volatile market conditions in a few ways— determining optimal routing and carrier selection, consolidating freight, or selecting the right mode for a shipment. Part of how it accomplishes this is through transportation modeling. For example, Manhattan Associates’ TMS technology includes a “what-if” analysis tool that allows companies to simulate changes to their supply chains. By proactively modeling different disruption scenarios, shippers will be better prepared when change does occur. TMS technology can help even after changes stop being theoretical. One example is carrier volume restrictions. In 2020, thanks to the e-commerce boom, parcel shipments rose at an annual rate of 37%, according to Pitney Bowes’ Parcel Shipping Index. That’s

well above what carriers were prepared to handle. In such circumstances, TMS providers can help secure capacity by consolidating shipments, for instance, or looking into multi-stop truckload routes. In 2021, grocery chain Hy-Vee used Manhattan Associates’ TMS platform to move perishable items through its distribution network efficiently. Modeling transportation network changes helped the grocer optimize orders and reduce transportation costs.

The Dematic Multishuttle stores, buffers, and sequences products between bulk stock and other functions such as picking and order assembly. These types of systems can increase speed, storage density, accuracy, and throughput in warehouses and distribution centers.

64 Inbound Logistics • April 2022

Powered by