Winning the e-commerce battle with GIS

By Wolfgang Hall, global industry manager for logistics and supply chain managemen, Esri.


e-commerce GIS


 

Changing consumer habits and preferences, together with the rapid pace of technological innovation, has changed the face of e-commerce.

 

While traditional bricks and mortar shops are here to stay, the paradigm has shifted. Today, the convenience of having thousands of brands and products at our fingertips has created new customer expectations regarding delivery times and the overall buying experience.

 

Online merchants offer myriad shopping options, making it easier for consumers to switch brands when their expectations are not met.

 

This has encouraged retailers and logistics providers to adopt Big Data and analytics technologies as a way to effectively manage supply chains and improve last mile delivery efficiency.

 

Visualizing last mile delivery

The typical e-commerce supply chain includes an intricate network of suppliers, logistics providers, warehouses, retailers and other delivery-critical facilities. Along this chain, more than 80 percent of data churned daily is location related.

 

Whether it is data on customer demographics, delivery routes, delivery capacity or resources, location is inherent to successful supply chain and logistics management. This is why an increasing number of retailers, and shipping and courier delivery organizations, are turning to location-based analytics to optimize last mile delivery processes.

 

Location-based analytics – also known as Geographic Information System (GIS) technology – integrates and analyses data from multiple business systems to create a dynamic and interactive map-based view of information.

 

This technology was originally developed to assist with urban planning. However, nowadays GIS influences strategic decision-making in governments and corporations around the world. Retail and logistics operators became convinced they could not only better optimize routes and parcel delivery, but also meet the challenges posed to other parts of their businesses.

 

Today, logistics companies like FedEx, UPS, and United States Postal Service use GIS to create a real-time synchronized view of their business, and understand how best to optimize human resources, physical assets and delivery fleets.

 

Retailers, meanwhile, are leveraging the technology to uncover patterns and inefficiencies in their operations – allowing them to better manage a high volume of purchases and get deliveries to their intended destination, on time, as promised.

 

The location advantage

The e-commerce boom in Asia Pacific is showing no signs of slowing down, and it is not just about creating a great virtual shopfront anymore. The companies that can effectively optimize their supply chain network will be the ones able to stay ahead of the pack in this fast-changing landscape.

 

The great news is, there are more tools available to help with this than ever before.

 

By visualizing a complex range of business data on a single mapping platform, location-based analytics technology provides a distinct competitive advantage to companies working in the e-commerce space – one that reduces operational costs, optimizes resources, and ensures premium service is provided to customers throughout the entire purchasing process.