IT for shippers in an e-commerce world

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Rising e-commerce sales and the growing expectations of consumers for faster delivery options are pushing smaller retailers to rethink “how to compete effectively in this new world and are evaluating options outside of Amazon’s platform,” according to the “2019 State of Logistics Report.”

“For all shippers, talent and specialized insight can be hard to find, the right IT infrastructure may not be cost-effective or implementable, and an agile culture is often difficult to adopt,” according to the annual report, which is offered through the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals and authored by A.T. Kearney, a global management consulting firm.

In response, traditional motor carriers are launching programs that combine warehousing, fulfillment, and shipping for smaller retailers. One example is FedEx Returns Technology, a management solution for online-focused retailers from FedEx Corp.

Likewise, UPS Inc. has developed Ware­2Go, a technology platform matching available warehouse space and fulfillment services, and Inxeption, a business-to-business platform built on blockchain technology.

The UPS Developer Kit can help integrate UPS functionality directly into business systems and e-commerce websites using the Internet. There are 11 UPS Developer APIs to help automate and improve internal efficiencies while enhancing the end-to-end customer experience. Integrations, such as address validation, paperless documentation, and signature tracking, are included.

“Each customer has numerous variables that must be considered that are unique to their proprietary business processes and systems,” UPS said.

Expense and development time for various integrations will differ, and retailers are advised to start with an initial analysis, which includes documenting business processes and pain points. It also guides retailers through technical requirements, cost comparisons, and preparation for downloading APIs.

Elsewhere, truckload carrier Werner Enterprises has developed the proprietary “SMART System,” a web-based supply chain management system that offers a customized shipment platform delivered to customers, suppliers, and other carriers through a secure application. The SMART System provides shipment validation, visibility and optimization, and provides a tool for comprehensive data collection. The optimization component allows for complete adaptation to each customer’s business rules, while a geographic information system (GIS) enables real-time mapping of customers’ network data.

With GIS enabling, applications can interact with visualized data to produce custom maps, charts and reports. Users can specify the amount of detail to better focus on specific details needed to make better and faster decisions.