"People are buying differently than they used to," says Cagney. Today, the average consumer has multiple purchase and delivery options, made possible in large part by the advent of mobile applications. The technology allows buyers to see which merchandiser has the lowest price, free delivery or an overnight option.
At the same time, Cagney says, many buyers who shop online still want to go into a brick-and-mortar store to see the product – and even to buy it there.
For online orders, retailers have the challenge of managing the “last mile” of delivery. “In many ways,” says Cagney, “it’s the only interface that consumers have with whom they bought the goods from. The final-mile experience is very important to manage.”
The landscape of delivery options is changing as well. Retailers and e-tailers are deploying a variety of vehicles for that purpose, including Uber-type services on the commercial side.
Technology can help to enable those alternatives. “In the old days, everybody was trying to develop their own technology and integrate it with others,” says Cagney. “Today, you have to have synchronization.” The final-mile transporter must have visibility into the operations of linehaul carriers.
“The technology needs to be social,” says Cagney. “It has to provide a lot of analytics for demand and sales projections, and get smarter over time. And, in a lot of cases, it has to be in the cloud.”
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