E-commerce and Logistics: Stakes and Future Prospects for Logistics Suppliers

E-commerce and Logistics: Stakes and Future Prospects for Logistics Suppliers


H Huard, Sétra, FR; O Gavaud, Technical Department for Transport of the Ministry for Energy, Ecology, Sustainable Development and Spatial Planning, FR


This paper intends to set out to which extent logistics organisations have been impacted by the development of e-commerce. It identifies what is at stake and future prospects for logistics suppliers.


E-business industry keeps growing up. Evidences of it are the recent figures released by the Fevad ? French association representing distance selling and e-business ? in collaboration with the French Ministry of Trade and Industry. In 2007, 180 million transactions on the Internet occurred, reaching a total amount of ?16 billion. Like in 2006, numbers of e-transactions have increased by 35% in 2007. Nowadays, 1 French in 3 uses Internet for shopping purposes, whereas only half of the population is said to be an Internet user.

Furthermore, about 2/3 of e-transactions are related to retailing of consumer goods; the remaining 1/3 having to do with services activities (tourism, transport tickets, etc.). Therefore, the e-business industry generally needs to back up on very efficient logistics organisations in order to be able to cope with the growing demand. From e-business viewpoint, the main objective remains to respond to the needs of the internet users who might expect a wider range of choices, more services, more information, more quickly. In this regard, logistics suppliers have a key role to play in achieving customer satisfaction. Solutions implemented are to ensure reliable deliveries, products tracking and low transport costs. These are aspects e-business dealers will closely examine when it is to choose logistics suppliers.

The volume of activity implied by the e-business within the logistics and transport sector has dramatically increased over the past few years, raising a lot of issues. Whether one shall outsource or not? If so, which specific activity one shall keep a control over? Whether one shall deal with one haulier or many? Where about and how many distribution centres one shall establish? ? Therefore, in parallel with the development of e-business, a variety of logistics strategies ? more or less sophisticated ? have emerged, each of them designed to adapt every single situation.

The present paper is produced by the Sétra (Technical Department for transport, Roads and Bridges engineering and Road Safety) for a broad distribution within the French Ministry for Ecology, Sustainable Development and Spatial Planning departments of Transport and Logistics. It intends to set out how professionals apply on the ground the theoretical concepts of logistics. Hence, this research is based on relevant interviews of major players in e-business logistics. The interviews carried out target sectors such as the supermarket distribution ? focusing on groups that had launched early 2000 their e-supermarket, the distance selling business ? groups that come from the traditional "mail order" sector, the high-technology appliances industry. In addition, logistics suppliers and hauliers whose activity is very much linked to e-business have also been met.
These interviews yield both qualitative and quantitative information of significant interest as for roles of IT, organisations of logistics networks and the suppliers? management. In particular, they highlight the market opportunities that local freight forwarders can take on and enable to fully understand which features of logistics suppliers' organisation are likely to support their competitiveness. These meetings with professionals are also the opportunity to get feelings from professionals about their sectors regarding current and future trends. An extensive distribution to small- and medium-sized businesses is to be considered since this paper provides a comprehensive overview of essential features likely to favour competitiveness on the logistics market.
Moreover, a consistent literature review of which an excerpt can be found at the end of this abstract has been undertaken.

This paper sets out the recent changes in logistics that the e-business development has brought up. By identifying and examining the most innovative solutions introduced within the sector of e-business, the document strives to determine what is at stake for freight carriers' and logistics suppliers' developments. All these aspects will be discussed as follow.
- Recent developments of the e-business: drivers for changes in logistics
- Changes in Logistics: various case studies as illustrations
- Analysis of results
- Keys to competitiveness: future prospects


Association for European Transport