The potential of digitalisation for commerce and logistics
The commerce and logistics sectors stand out due to their role as links in a value chain, for instance, from the producer to the customer.
Compared to other sectors, transport and logistics companies are already strongly dependent on digitalisation. It is, for instance, standard for truck drivers to use SatNav devices to plan their itineraries and for customers to check the status of their shipment online at any time. However, technical possibilities go far beyond this: Data glasses, for instance, could assist employees in the future by displaying additional information, such as the location of the storage slot or the quantity to be picked. Some companies are already experimenting with drones or autonomous vehicles for delivering shipments. Another trend is the smart evaluation of traffic and weather data using big data technologies as a means of improving itinerary and storage area planning.
The digitalisation of commerce at present still shows a heterogeneous picture: Whilst large mail order and Internet businesses have assumed a pioneering role, stationary retailers, for instance, are still at the beginning. In order to remain competitive, more and more companies are using the potential of digitalisation and changing some of their processes.
The classical distribution channel of the local retail business is today smoothly supplemented by other channels, such as online shops or mobile apps, giving buyers flexibility when shopping even after opening houses. New technologies, such as virtual reality, can also be used here so that customers can walk through a virtual version of the shop without having to leave home. Big data is also increasingly used in commerce and enables advisory services and offers directly tailored to the specific needs and wishes of customers.
Digitalisation offers a host of possibilities for commerce and logistics to improve existing or to establish new services. These will help companies to access new customer groups and to prevail against increasingly international and tougher competition.
Note: On this website, internal logistics functions (‘intralogistics’) are treated as part of manufacturing in view of the close links to production processes.