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Supply Chain Insights

5 T&L Technology Tips to Drive Business Performance Today

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By Michael Dyson, VP of Sales, APAC, SOTI

Recent supply chain disruptions have taught us that innovation is critical for business survival and, for the most part, the use of integrated technology has been the differentiating factor between a company succeeding or failing during the pandemic. So, as we look forward, what lessons can be learnt and what technology trends will emerge that will help meet customer needs and drive business performance in the T&L sector?

Visibility across the supply chain is key

With only 1 in 5 companies having total visibility into their mobile and IoT deployments, businesses that don’t employ analytics to enable this visibility will struggle to achieve their full potential. Insights from apps and user analytics can improve performance and serve customers better, delivering unprecedented levels of visibility and helping to forecast when to scale capacity up or down and adjust operations.

When transport and logistics (T&L) companies adopt a mobile-first strategy supported by powerful analytics, they can obtain end-to-end visibility across the supply chain. This delivers critical insights such as real-time decision-making, which can improve workforce productivity and create better and more responsive experiences.

With the T&L sector being so fast-paced, companies must adapt to be successful. Visibility is the key to simplifying workflows and driving greater efficiencies across the operation. Without visibility, businesses could see a devastating impact on their operations, especially now that consumers expect quick and trackable deliveries.

The in-store experience must be seamless

Shopper loyalty is harder to secure than ever before. One poor in-store shopping experience can lead to a shopper abandoning a sale and taking their business to a competitor. In the future, retailers need to deliver frictionless in-store experiences and avoid stock issues at all costs. Retailers will struggle to sell what they don’t have, or can’t see, and any lack of stock visibility risks lost sales opportunities. The coming year will demonstrate the importance for retailers to have real-time insights into their product inventory and logistics operations, so they can rapidly adapt to changes in consumer shopping patterns and meet customer needs.

The e-commerce boom

Throughout the pandemic, there has been an accelerated move to online shopping. As people have been unable to visit physical stores, many have turned to online shopping, which has meant that fast shipping is no longer a luxury, but an expectation.  Last-mile delivery has also been a global, industry-wide challenge faced by T&L companies during this time as it is traditionally the slowest part of the delivery process, yet the element that has the biggest impact on consumer satisfaction. When deliveries do not show up on time customers complain, and with multiple options, they won’t hesitate to take their business elsewhere. It’s also the most expensive part of the supply chain process; accounting for 53% of the total cost of shipping and up to 41% of the total supply chain cost.

The continued rise of e-commerce has aggravated the cost and inefficiencies of last-mile delivery. This has led to customers expecting fast and often free delivery regardless of location. This places businesses under pressure to optimise delivery routes and processes. If they don’t, they risk disappointing their customers and losing out to competitors. Through all of this, technology has been the key tool for businesses to adapt to the rise in online shopping and the demand from consumers by working to streamline business processes and provide real-time visibility.

Integrate a mobile approach for business continuity

Keeping up with the kind of accelerated consumer demand that has been experienced throughout the pandemic doesn’t have to be a strenuous task, as long as a business has an integrated mobile approach. By implementing a robust mobile-first strategy, companies can provide better customer experiences and ensure they increase speed, minimise costs and increase transparency in the delivery channel.

When T&L companies invest in up to date technology and ensure their staff are using an integrated mobility and IoT management platform, the T&L industry will not only see powerful customer retention, but will also be able to form an effective operations strategy.

Technology is key to successful growth

Overall, technology adoption will be a critical factor for business success in the next 12 months and beyond. From research undertaken by SOTI, 76% of all T&L businesses agree that their organisation would benefit or has already benefited from having an effective mobile-first strategy for last-mile delivery, while 58% agree that it is an effective strategy that has reduced operational costs.

Our research also showed that 29% of all senior executives said that introducing or growing a mobile-first strategy is their current priority to drive their business forward. Updating technology processes will ensure that T&L operators are positioned to succeed in a post-pandemic world. It is also the best way to ensure customers are satisfied with the experience they receive and evolve from first-time shoppers into long-term customers.

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Supply Chain

bp and Uber sign Global Strategic Delivery Partnership

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  • bp and Uber sign a new global strategic convenience partnership aiming to make more than 3,000 retail locations available on Uber Eats by 2025.
  • The partnership extends current local arrangements in Australia, New Zealand, Poland, South Africa and the west coast of US, adding the UK and eastern US in 2022 and with plans to launch in other European markets from 2023.

Today, bp (NYSE: BP) and Uber Technologies, Inc. (NYSE: UBER) are announcing a new global strategic convenience delivery partnership, extending their existing local arrangements to reach more consumers across the world. Together, the partners will offer a huge range of quality convenience products, including fresh and prepared ranges, from select retail locations.

bp is the first convenience retailer to team up with Uber Eats on a global level and aims to have more than 3,000 retail locations available on the delivery platform over the next three years. The partnership supports bp’s goal of growing its access to customers and expanding its delivery footprint, in response to soaring demand for food, groceries and everyday essentials brought to the door.

The new partnership covers retail sites in Australia, New Zealand, Poland, South Africa and the west coast of US. Sites in the UK and eastern US will be added to the app for the first time this year, with plans to launch in other European markets from 2023.

“We’re thrilled to team up with Uber Eats globally giving us the opportunity to reach many more consumers online in addition to those who currently visit our retail sites. We’ve seen how the pandemic has accelerated customer demand for delivered convenience and this partnership will allow us to scale up quickly on the Uber platform. And for the first time, we will be able to offer delivery options to existing customers on our own BPme app by the end of 2023,” said Emma Delaney, executive vice president customers & products, bp.

With 20,500 bp retail sites across the world and 550 million customers living within 20 minutes of a bp retail site, the partners see enormous opportunities for growth. bp sites offer a range of products tailored to local markets which may include hot and cold drinks, food-for-now options as well as staple groceries, fresh produce and ready meals, plus wine, beer and flowers.

  • In the UK, customers will be able to access a range of Wild Bean Café, and other branded food and products via Uber Eats – with the first 120 sites due live on the platform by the end of June.
  • In the US, the offer will be made available to bp’s network of independently owned retail locations to support the growth of their businesses. The goal is to make it easy for these partners to sign up to the Uber Eats platform and access benefits based on bp’s scale.

bp will benefit from Uber’s global brand and operations footprint, best-in-class technology for dispatching orders, and more than 4.4 million drivers and couriers on the platform worldwide.

As part of the agreement, Uber Eats and bp will work to introduce delivery options onto bp’s own app, BPme – initially planned to be available in the UK, US and Australia by the end of 2023 – powered by Uber Direct. This new offer will allow bp to directly connect its customers to delivery riders, making Uber Eats the trusted partner in fulfilling these orders. Since 2019, bp has seen a three-fold increase in users of the BPme app, with 16 million active loyalty users worldwide.

“With more than 20,500 locations around the world, bp’s reach is enormous—making them critical partners as we pursue our ambitions of helping consumers across the world get what they need delivered to their doorsteps,” said Pierre Dimitri Gore-Coty, Uber’s SVP of Global Delivery. “We are proud to support this next phase of the company’s convenience growth through this delivery partnership and look forward to deeper collaboration in the future.”

bp and Uber already work together in mobility with bp providing electric vehicle charging for Uber’s ride-hail drivers. The companies will explore other areas for future cooperation in convenience, including opportunities to utilize low carbon delivery methods to fulfill orders from bp sites.

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Supply Chain Insights

Officeworks to own and control Distribution Network.

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Officeworks invests in supply chain capabilities, will own and run it’s distribution centre.

Officeworks has changed its supply chain strategy in the wake of COVID-19 issues, with a view to owning and controlling a network of distribution centres across the country.

“When I joined we had a different strategy around our supply chain,” Officeworks managing director Sarah Hunter told The Australian, referring to the company’s previous outsourcing strategy.

“So we’ve worked really hard now to build our supply chain capability. We were in the process of outsourcing it, we are now in the process of building that capability.

Officeworks recently opened Australia’s first solar-powered robotic distribution centre in Derrimut, Victoria.

“We started in Victoria, and we have had approval to build, now board approval to invest, and we are building a new, similar (distribution centre) operation in Western Australia. That’s exciting,” she said.

“Looking at our capital expenditure three, four, or five years ago it’s a material step up in our investment in our supply chain.

“Most importantly for us as a business is that every team member who worked at the old facility has been completely retrained,” she said. “We have 120 team members who are now fully trained in how to work in an automated state-of-the-art environment.”

The need to control its own distribution became clear during the pandemic.

By December, Officeworks saw 46 per cent of its business come from online, including click and collect. Now it needs to move to retain this growth at a cost effective scale.

“We have created a facility that’s not only more productive, it’s going to enable our online business to grow in Victoria and into NSW at the rate that we expect our online business will grow.

“So now we have the capacity, the cost per pick is materially lower because it’s much more productive. It’s a win-win scenario for us. We’ve kept everyone employed with really great job security. We’ve scaled them up to work in the supply chain of the future.

“And on top of that, we now have the capacity for growth in Victoria that frankly we were struggling with through COVID.”

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Business Continuity

Skills shortage puts SAP projects on hold

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Business demand creates double whammy on recruitment pressure

Skills-related issues have hit a quarter of SAP users, in some cases putting projects on hold, according to a survey of companies in the Americas.

Research released by the Americas’ SAP Users’ Group (ASUG) shows that 26 per cent of organisations see skills in supporting, developing, and upgrading SAP systems as their number one challenge in working with the technology.

A quarter of users loyal to the German vendor said skills problems were holding up projects.

Geoff Scott, ASUG CEO, told a webinar last week that the combination of skills shortages in businesses and their technology teams created a vicious cycle of driving the demand for new tools and technologies.

“Business functions come and say, ‘Hey, I need to have all these things done.’ And technology teams say, ‘Well, I don’t have the same skills I used to have.’ And I think it creates a major disruption inside many of our member companies,” he said.

Skills were also a major issue for SAP users looking either to migrate to or support S/4HANA, the latest version of the tech giant’s ERP software based on an in-memory database.

“We are going to feel the pinch of that skill gap. My word of caution is that as you think about moving to S/4 if you have not already, the ability for you to plan that migration may hit some turbulence related to skill gaps with your external partners. That’s something that you absolutely positively should consider,” he said.

While technology issues were the greatest concern in the research overall, broken down, only integration problems were more cited than staff turnover and maintaining knowledgeable staff.

Of those with integration problems, 28 per cent said they were causing data errors to spread, 17 per cent said they were affecting the compatibility between SAP and other applications, and 17 per cent said it meant they were unable to keep up with new technologies.

One respondent said: “Changes made in SAP and Salesforce that do not get reflected in the other system are causing data inconsistencies.”

Overall, the majority of SAP users were increasing their spending on the technology. Fifty-two per cent said they were increasing spending, up from 46 per cent last year.

However, the proportion of users saying they were cutting spending on SAP also rose from 5 per cent last year to 8 per cent in 2022. The number of organisations making the same level of investment fell, according to the ASUG research.

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