The Need for Speed: Revolutionizing Logistics to Deliver Delight

Rajeshwari Bhattacharyya  
Co-founder & Global Head, Strategy & Business Alliances, Percipere

Rajeshwari Bhattacharyya boasts a diverse 28-year career in Finance, Insurance, and Media. She's an INSEAD alum with expertise in Cyber Security from Harvard, and holds certifications as an Ethical Hacker and in Blockchain technology.

“It takes months to find a customer but seconds to lose one.” 


Perhaps this quote by legendary American football coach Vince Lombardy never held true like today. The impatient customer reigns supreme and enjoys a pervasive conversational presence in boardrooms worldwide. Gone are the days of leisurely browsing catalogs and waiting weeks for deliveries. The modern customer expects, in fact, demands instant gratification as a measure of delight. Businesses that fail to grasp this ‘need for speed’ sooner rather than later risk booking a permanent slot in the slow lane of growth! 


Recent research suggests that 73% of consumers making online purchases today expect deliveries within the next two days. Further, at least 22% of shoppers abandon their carts due to slow delivery options. On the B2B front, the situation is equally unforgiving as the window of response radically shrinks with customers demanding same-day deliveries. The message is loud and clear for those who care to listen; Speed is no longer a competitive edge. It’s the table stakes for survival and growth. 


While this presents a unique challenge for businesses of all sizes and across industries, hope is on the horizon! By embracing digital transformation, companies can leverage a suite of post-modern technologies, from the cloud, artificial intelligence, process mining, advanced analytics, and blockchain, Edge – including Grid computing and IoT to create transparent and efficient logistics processes with high customer-centricity. Evidently, for supply chain businesses today, rather than the processes, the processes improving the processes are of strategic importance, and these technologies have a defining role in it.  


For instance, properly implementing a Cloud ERP and drawing an automation roadmap is critical for integrating key business processes like inventory management, supply chain, finance, and human resources into a unified platform, driving efficiency, and securing enabled outcomes. Using the right ERP solutions and automation constructs, logistic companies can gain real-time visibility into inventory levels, streamline order processing, and optimize route planning. A case in point is DHL, which improved its productivity by around 20% and saved significant costs by implementing a state-of-the-art ERP system. Plugged into this technology stack, Predictive Analytics can help businesses anticipate demand fluctuations and pre-position inventory closer to customers, enabling faster deliveries.


The case is strengthened by AI-powered forecasting models that help businesses understand customer demand intuitively, enabling efficient inventory management and timely deliveries while not underestimating the sustainability goals and carbon credits it contributes to. Digital Twins of freight models and AI-powered route optimization can analyze traffic patterns and road conditions to create the most efficient delivery routes for couriers, minimizing delivery times. With the advent of Generative AI, today, intelligent chatbots can interact with customers with human-like alacrity, delivering personalized guidance and real-time query resolution within immersive environments. 


IoT, EDGE computing, and 5G connectivity also play significant roles in this equation, as they have brought high-speed data analytics to the field like never before. By embedding sensors in packages and delivery vehicles, businesses can track shipments in runtime, providing customers with accurate delivery updates and fostering a sense of transparency. This enhances customer experience and pre-empts delays and failures. 


In fact, the age of 5G has opened a new horizon of possibilities for the Internet of Things (IoT), enabling real-time shipment tracking, motor vehicle management—upkeep and maintenance—and compliance with safety regulations. For instance, Maersk Line, the world’s largest container shipping company, utilizes IoT devices to monitor temperature-sensitive cargo, ensuring product quality and customer satisfaction. This approach has delivered tangible results for logistics operators and supply chain companies in reducing waste, meeting their sustainability targets, and keeping customers happy!


However, in the new world order where supply chain & logistics are at the receiving end with the geo-political issues, transforming logistics operations in ways that genuinely delight the customer would require more than clever technology infusion. The key lies in embracing a transformation mindset. As economic imperative bridges the distance between boardrooms and legislatures, policymakers must work with businesses to create a regulatory environment that fosters affirmative shifts. It might involve streamlining data privacy and security regulations for wider cloud technology adoption and incentivized investment in phygital infrastructure that supports faster and more efficient delivery methods, such as drone delivery zones, 5G connected delivery vehicle fleets, or fully automated warehouse operations. 


The ‘need for speed’ is not just a catchy title; it’s a call to action. By embracing the digital revolution and prioritizing agility within their logistics chains, businesses can keep pace with the changing consumer landscape and transform fulfillment into a value proposition. As the era of incremental change disappears in the rearview, it’s time to throttle up and shift the gear to deliver an experience the young, aspirational customer truly deserves!