eCommerce: With a Bike to a Micro-Hub
The optimal logistics solution for eCommerce is a combination of hardware and software.
The relationship is undisputed. Both trade and logistics are part of the services family. Some trading companies even claim to be logistics service providers in essence. This point of view is particularly comprehensible from the perspective of eCommerce. Sales are generated almost exclusively by typical logistical services such as picking, bundling, packaging and shipping there, while the related processes are controlled by highly complex logistics software.
Price increases threatened
Apart from the internet, logistics is therefore the most important enabler of eCommerce. In addition to the “hardware” in the form of vehicles, roller conveyors or scanners, software is playing an increasing role. For example, this involves mapping storage strategies, optimizing route planning of the order pickers and automatically selecting the most suitable CEP service provider in each case. While the internal processes between incoming and outgoing goods can be planned very well, the uncertainties begin after the handover to the parcel service provider. Although diesel driving bans, driver shortages, increasing traffic jams and lack of parking possibilities are not primarily the problems of the shippers, these factors will also be reflected in the competitive shipping costs in the form of price increases in the short and medium term.
Night with new perspectives
All the more interesting are the solutions with which the parcel service providers want to meet the challenges over the last mile. Although it is also controversial, electric mobility can play a central role here, because it can solve the problem of local pollutant and noise emissions. As particularly low-noise drives, the electric motors also open up completely new perspectives for night supply in urban areas. Transporters could fill central micro-hubs during the night, which serve as a starting point for delivery to the end recipients. This is then taken over during the day by electric cargo bikes or freight bicycles, which go to "their" micro-hub several times a day and therefore manage with lower load volumes and distances.
One hub for many
Mobile and stationary solutions are conceivable for the micro-hubs. They can be parked trailers or empty store locations. We might also see multi-use approaches where a hub is shared by several parcel service providers. In this case, intelligent solutions are required that inform each partner about the current occupancy and utilization of existing capacities with the help of sensors and software. This makes it clear that not only the hardware, but also the software, must be considered to create an optimal eCommerce solution.