A few weeks ago we published an article about our visit to the web shop Vakdagen in Utrecht. Our most important conclusion of that visit is that the Netherlands have a very strong focus on BtoC e-commerce. So logically, they also have many fulfilment service providers, with a strong focus on this BtoC issue.
This in turn leads to the observation that the logistics service providers in the Netherlands are strongly committed to automation in order to increase efficiency. Based on today’s specific market, this is quite a logical approach. Nevertheless, from all our customers both in Belgium and the Netherlands we notice that there is a new growing demand from companies that are currently active in a BtoB environment.
E-commerce principles in a BtoB environment
How can we use the principles of e-commerce in a BtoB environment and, by extension, already take into account today’s growing need for an omni-channel approach? In other words, this question consists of several parts:
- As a BtoB player can we also have our orders processed in a fast, digital way by a 3 PL player in order to focus on our core tasks?
- Does this create opportunities to appeal to other sales channels and perhaps even to evolve into an omni-channel player?
- Can we combine these services with our strategy, so that we can make a difference with our services as well as our product?
Only an e-fulfilment service provider, who is not solely dedicated to BtoC can answer the first question. To reinforce this point of view, we take the example of automation in order picking. A great tool for picking goods of a certain magnitude quickly and efficiently with always thinking about the piece level.
In a BtoB environment we work a lot more with packaging quantities, which creates a need to pick piece by piece or to pick at the level of each inner and outer box. This is a complexity that is almost impossible to solve in a purely automated environment.
Even a rather traditional BtoB logistics service provider will find it difficult to offer an answer to this problem. Their processes are not built to handle the complexity of orders at the required speed.
Logistics in a changing market
As far as the third part of the question is concerned, the answer is quite simple. In the future, companies will have to adopt an increasingly flexible attitude. As an external logistics service provider you are an extension of the strategy of a customer, who is in an ever-changing world. The only way to do this successfully is by setting up a digital integration that takes into account the strategy of the customer today, but also foresees that the market changes and therefore your integration must be flexible.
In short, there is a growing need for a logistics partner that evolves with the market of a customer. That’s why we spend a lot of our time on digital integration between different platforms when starting a collaboration. We take into account the existing operation, but also the fact that this integration must be flexible in order to be able to cope with change.
If you want to know more about our total approach, please feel free to contact us!