The logistics expert Robert G. Thiemann has known the luxembourgish market for many years and is the owner of BPM-Lux, a service of RT-Log SA. Following his opinion, client expectations and the progress of technological innovations are the main reasons that challenge retailers to also handle logistics with more innovation.
Retailer or logistics expert ? Or is the question not justified ?
It can be said that both sectors are tightly connected. Retailers have to take logistics into close consideration, as it can make or break their business. The market is moving faster than ever, with a very short lifespan, while customers have rising expectations. Nowadays there are so many innovative logistics solutions, that complaining about not being able to flog products is no longer an option. Retailers could become more creative, and obviously more reactive.
How important is the role of e-commerce ?
It plays a major role ! Not only because many customers have discovered new ways of shopping, but also because their demands and expectations have evolved over time. Even if the customer wishes to buy something on location, in a shop, he or she expects similar flexibility to an online store. For example, it is less and less acceptable for an in-store salesperson to answer : « We're out of stock », « the orders are taking longer than expected », « the orders are not coming through ». I know from experience (myself a consumer), that customers are willing to pay for high quality service.
Where lie the greatest challenges for logistics ?
One of the challenges is the so-called « Last Mile » solution. It is a fact that transport only makes up for 75% of parcel shipping costs. With BPM, savings can be achieved by grouping deliveries in a single location. For end-users, we believe, the BPM Parcel-Stations are particularly interesting because they are located throughout Luxembourg. The customer decides when and in which Parcel-Station to pick-up his or her order, giving the retailer much more flexibility for the delivery process. More-so, if the retailer has a solid inventory control system capable of displaying the whereabouts of the products, he can streamline his process for more efficient purchases and sales : saving space while providing a faster rotation of goods and customers benefiting from better service.
The topic of « City logistics » was highly popular in the 90s. What happened to the concept ?
The officially planned concepts of city logistics could not be successfully implement. This had, and still has, to do with very individual and varying delivery times and Stocks within a city. Yet the basic idea is not a bad one : the products are collected from outside of the centres, packaged and delivered. In a certain way, with the BPM label, we have built a privately financed city logistics. Through our system we collect and deliver grouped shipments. The costs advantages are obvious, I would think, especially for retailers. Also, these logistics are more respectful of our environment, as was already the aim 20 years ago.