Collaboration, collaboration, collaboration

Earlier this week I attended the European Logistics Association’s conference on ‘Innovation in Urban Logistics and Multimodal Platforms, held at the European Parliament in Brussels.

This was a very timely event, not least because the growth in e-commerce has put the spotlight on last mile solutions. In addition, there is growing interest in certain cities in looking at retail consolidation centres as a way of reducing congestion and cutting CO2, and other emissions.

An essential pre-requisite for many urban logistics initiatives is greater collaboration along and between supply chains (vertical and horizontal collaboration) plus collaboration between modes, hence the connection between urban logistics and multi-modal platforms.  There are clearly opportunities for third party logistics contractors here – but also for property developers and investors with well-located urban buildings or sites.

Another interesting, and related observation, is the reducing ‘order lead time’, i.e. the time between when a customer places an order and expects delivery.  One question here is whether e-commerce customers really want a same day service (as opposed to greater reliability of service and delivery) or whether this is being offered by retailers as a source of competitive advantage.  If ‘same day’ becomes more widespread, then expect more demand for urban delivery facilities.