AI to add operational and decision-making agility to express logistics


While e-commerce has made the life of consumers extremely convenient, the competition among retailers to deliver goods to consumers at a quicker pace has grown immensely. In the last year alone, India has seen unprecedented growth in supply chain optimization as a result of e-commerce growth. With growth came unpredictability and complexities that have impacted logistics in multiple ways and put a spotlight to improve last-mile logistics. Agility and flexibility in express logistics, therefore, has become the game-changer among e-commerce players. Challenged by the continued and unpredictable growth of e-commerce, businesses need more than traditional technology solutions that support the highly dynamic logistics scenario today.

We live in the era of instant gratification and immediate fulfilment, where there is a need to fulfil orders with greater efficiency, speed and accuracy, and on a larger scale. The rapid increase in SKUs and volumes allows logistics managers little time to anticipate, plan and adapt to the volume growth.  The complexity does not end there; multiple seasonal peaks and promotional volatility in parcel volumes results in a system choke translating into delayed deliveries and errors. The continued growth in e-commerce has intensified demand for newer technologies in order fulfilment.

In times like today, when we rely on doorstep deliveries, the e-commerce supply chain needs to have the agility to deliver goods by deploying new technology. Players now have respite in emerging tech and AI-powered solutions to address the demand peaks and unpredictable scenarios. Advanced technologies are helping to strike a balance between customer’ delivery expectations and sustaining profitability for these e-commerce players. While it’s economical to transport cargo across the globe, the cost of operation tends to shoot up to fulfil such express deliveries every day. The high-performance technology systems and robotics are capable of operating 24×7, offering advanced machine learning and decision-making capabilities round the clock and can be easily scaled to meet evolving business needs to handle large peaks.

Today, automation and AI are not an option but an imperative which adds to improved productivity, less returns and minimal loss of sales. All this will positively impact the overall cost of operations and the profitability of the business. With the help of AI-driven algorithms, supply chains can be easily scaled and support e-commerce, third party logistics, retail stores and production floors, and help increase cost savings. Powered by artificial intelligence, the solutions can help optimize processes and improve throughput multi-fold. In this way, it reduces order replenishment time, thus enhancing business agility and growth as well as eliminating complexity, higher accuracy and shorter fulfilment times.  

As e-commerce continues to grow, demand scenarios will get more complex. Customer needs today are evolving exponentially, and companies are increasingly adopting new-age technologies like robotics and AI to fulfil these needs. Express logistics and the last mile are the pillars on which e-commerce thrives – the promise of fulfilment cannot be compromised. New technologies like AI can manage unprecedented volumes and deliver the flexibility, visibility and actionable insights required to optimize the supply chain, thereby providing a unified and satisfying shopping experience to consumers.

This article is authored by Uday Sharma, COO, Spoton Logistics. All views expressed are of the author’s own.

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