Today’s consumers expect a seamless, faster purchasing journey, and Zebra Technologies Corporation’s newest research analyzed how manufacturers, transportation and logistics (T&L) firms and retailers are preparing to meet the growing needs of the on-demand economy.
“Driven by the always-connected, tech-savvy shopper, retailers, manufacturers and logistics companies are collaborating and swapping roles in uncharted ways to meet shoppers’ omnichannel product fulfillment and delivery expectations,” said Jim Hilton, manufacturing and transportation and logistics global principal at Zebra Technologies.
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Eighty-nine percent of respondents to Zebra’s Future of Fulfillment Vision Study agreed that e-commerce is driving the need for faster delivery, Hilton said. “In response, companies are turning to digital technology and analytics to bring heightened automation, merchandise visibility and business intelligence to the supply chain to compete in the on-demand consumer economy.”
The study also revealed that 78 percent of logistics companies expect to provide same-day delivery by 2023 and 40 percent anticipate delivery within a two-hour window by 2028. In addition, 87 percent of survey respondents expect to use crowdsourced delivery or a network of drivers that choose to complete a specific order by 2028.
Disruptive technologies such as drones, driverless cars, robots and wearable and mobile technology will help increase efficiency through speed and cost effectiveness.
Currently, only 39 percent of the supply chain respondents reported operating at an omnichannel level, with reducing backorder, inventory allocations and freight costs as the biggest challenge to reaching omnichannel.
For those investing in omnichannel tactics, more than 75 percent of retailers use store inventory to fill online orders and even more plan to implement BOPIS within the next years. Some retailers expressed plans to restructure stores to double as fulfillment centers and to reduce selling space to accommodate e-commerce pickup and returns.
On a logistical level, by 2021, handheld mobile computers with barcode scanners will be used by 94 percent of respondents for omnichannel logistics, which will provide real-time access to warehouse management systems. RFID technology and inventory management platforms are also expected to grow.
On regional levels, European and Middle Eastern entities use store inventory to fill orders. Forty percent of Latin American respondents said they plan to discontinue free shipping programs, and an even higher amount to end free return shipping. This corresponds with retailers globally saying managing product returns has been a challenge as an increase in e-commerce also means an increase in returns. Elsewhere, retailers plan to offer free shipping, returns and same-day delivery options. In North America inventory accuracy is a key focus will continue to rise in North America; manufacturers, logistics companies and merchants ranked current inventory accuracy at 74 percent and reported needing to be at 83 percent to handle the rise of omnichannel logistics. Finally, Asian respondents plans to implement same-day delivery faster than any other region.
Zebra surveyed more than 2,700 professionals in transportation and logistics, retail and manufacturing firms on their plans, implementation levels, experiences and attitudes toward omnichannel logistics. Surveys were conducted in conjunction with research partner Qualtrics in 2017 across the United States, Canada, Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Chile, France, Germany, United Kingdom, Italy, Russia, Spain, China, India, Australia and New Zealand.