The rise in e-commerce has exploded across the globe, setting the stage for a highly competitive landscape as experts forecast a two-digit annual growth in the year to come. While e-retailers strive for added value, many choose to increase product availability beyond their borders. It is estimated that 70% of e-commerce transactions feature a cross-border element, making the need for international cooperation greater than ever.
The most important priority for e-retailers is customer satisfaction and this requires confidence that the logistical chains will function cooperatively and intact merchandise will be delivered on time. Likewise, postal operators need faster preparation for distribution, the ability to distinguish between urgent/non-urgent shipments, and a reduction of costs in order to improve efficiency. They seek flexible, personalized solutions that improve productivity at crucial distribution points.
Naturally, this rise in e-commerce is responsible for a significant increase in international parcel volumes. While local postal operators have achieved excellent progress in domestic parcel deliveries, the challenge is to address efficiency and cross-border collaboration for international parcels. Unfortunately, many of these parcels experience labeling or customs difficulties, creating a need for establishing accurate norms that represent the specificities of the parcel market. Some key customer priorities for international parcels include: better track and trace visibility, simplified returns, automated customs procedures, reliable delivery schedules, a choice of delivery location, and predictable delivery times.
Solystic is putting its knowledge to work by carefully examining the current parcel circumstances as well as analyzing future trends. Firstly, it understands that the priority for both e-retailers and postal operators is customer satisfaction. In order to better serve the customer, a number of aspects must be taken into consideration. Customers want choices in delivery options; they want to be able to access throughout a parcel’s journey accurate information on where and when it will arrive, while playing an interactive role in this process. They also want the lowest possible price – a factor the internet has made easy to compare. In order to achieve these expectations, international delivery requires greater flexibility and personalization at a reduced cost. The cost related to distribution preparation must also be reduced.
Solystic’s expertise with sort plans began with letters and flats and will continue to evolve synergistically with the parcel market. The entwining of mail and parcels has created the need for a logistical system specific to parcels in which every parcel follows both unique and common logistical paths. Beginning with the sender, it makes its way through a number of sorting centers, distribution offices and local customs offices, ultimately arriving at the recipient’s delivery point. This is where the value of track-and-trace is best understood – it is far from negligible. Each local postal operator applies its own label but as the parcel crosses [national and international]borders, the labels may vary, making them susceptible to mix-ups. Therefore, a standardized format is required.
Solystic believes the ideal solution to offering greater international track-and-trace capabilities would be if in addition to physical labeling – which cannot yet be standardized – the virtual identification, or V-Id, is also attached to each parcel in order to cope with the difficulties currently encountered in the logistical chains between operators.
V-Id offers a virtual label and quantifiable cost savings, as well as a highly reliable means of tracking. It is conceivable that this technology could also be applied to returns, where a gray area still exists for many online customers.
In addition to V-Id, image acquisition with optical character recognition (OCR) can be applied not only to letters and flats, but also to parcels, ensuring an important reduction in errors during the sorting phases. Solystic is also paving the way for optimized sequencing plans that focus on the loading and unloading order of distribution vehicles.
As mail and parcel flows become increasingly intertwined, Solystic is applying its expertise to ensure its solutions evolve alongside customer’s needs. These modular solutions, based on innovation and sorting technology, are easy to implement and will meet the challenges of the growing parcel surge.
April 28, 2015