Purchasing things online. Like it or not, this is basically the only option we have during these times of Covid. And indeed…in terms of logistics, the experience is often pleasant. You order, make your payment and from then on, it is one streamlined process from the warehouse up to your front door. With same-day delivery, detailed track & trace and return service if desired. When it comes to the outbound logistics, everything seems perfectly under control (to outsiders, that is).

The answer is often as simple as it is confronting

It is during the ordering process that the first cracks in this ideal image often become apparent. Frequently, articles advertised in a webshop are not in stock, have delayed availability or are even not available at all. You wonder how this is possible. In many cases, the answer is as simple as it is confronting: often, the inbound logistics lack the extensive automation that is present in the outbound logistics. The further back in the logistics chain, the more organisation and implementation become a black hole.

Inbound and outbound logistics do not converge until the distribution centre

Studies by evofenedex confirm it time and again: telephone, e-mail and Excel are still highly dominant when it comes to the sharing of data in the logistics chain. Consequently, that is also where things often go wrong. Inbound logistics and outbound logistics are separate processes that do not converge until the distribution centre. It is not until the run-up to the arrival that articles actually start appearing on the radar via inclusion in the warehouse management system (WMS). But what transpires prior to that? In terms of transparency and control, the current inbound flow continues to substantially lag behind the outbound flow. The webshop does not have the connection to the preceding process. And this explains why the location and availability of stock in the chain are unknown. What is the order status with the supplier, how many items are en route and at what time are they expected at the distribution centre? No one who has real-time insight into such virtual stocks and is therefore able to provide information about them. Each link more or less operates stand-alone. Bearing in mind the pursuit of customer intimacy and customer satisfaction, this is a strange realisation. Because how can a company possibly achieve this if items are consistently delivered too late or turn out to not be available at all?

The solution is the seamless integration of inbound and outbound logistics

Ultimately, this can only be achieved by further digitising the inbound logistics, offering transparency 24/7 and seamlessly integrating this with your outbound activities. By already digitally binding suppliers and chain partners to you during the inbound process, transparency is created for all parties, allowing for optimal chain cooperation. That entails much more than digitally providing the supplier with an order. If you next fail to monitor and control the order process in real time, this will inevitably lead to surprises at the distribution centre.

If that is the case, supplier(s) and logistics service providers will choose their own route for the execution, timing and method of delivery. And they will mainly provide feedback through Excel reports, which do not allow for proactive action to be taken. By having all the links work together digitally in one single system, you can prevent and, more importantly, improve this. Each step becomes visible and controllable in real time. Using the web makes this feasible for everyone.

Thus, all steps up to the consumer can flow seamlessly into each other

Inbound and outbound logistics are inextricably linked. The current, highly common practice of separate logistics flows is inefficient and ultimately untenable. The automation of the goods that we as consumers take delivery of at our doorsteps should not start halfway at the distribution centre, but right at the very start of the logistics chain. Thus, all steps up to the consumer can flow seamlessly into each other. By focusing on this together with all the links, a company can truly become responsive!