Technology has consistently revolutionised the way consumers interact with brands and businesses. But in the face of rising demand and global uncertainties, SMEs need more innovative solutions to gain greater visibility of the supply chain and more efficient, smarter logistics. Peter Langley, Vice President at FedEx Express, Australasia shares how tech is reshaping the way SMEs and logistics providers interact.
Using data to make smarter decisions
When it comes to accessing enhanced visibility into the supply chain, data is crucial. That’s why AI-powered, sensor-based solutions are now the norm in logistics. The success of e-commerce comes down to convenience and speed, but customers also expect to know where their items are along the delivery funnel. Smart sensor technology can provide everything from location data to transit updates, and even the condition of the package itself.
This data not only makes shipping more secure for the average consumer, but it gives SMEs peace of mind that their products will be delivered on a certain date and in a certain condition — particularly for high-value packages, food ingredients, chemicals and other sensitive products.
Another benefit of technology-powered logistics is how it improves the customer experience. With drivers and customers now more connected than ever, SMEs benefit from greater brand loyalty. They can also spot bottlenecks and slowdowns in their supply chain, which gives them time to alter delivery routes in order to maximise efficiency.
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FedEx Surround, for example, enables data driven monitoring and intervention controls over customer supply chains. It monitors risks to packages along the delivery route — such as weather disruptions and traffic delays — and provides real-time information on SMEs’ supply chains. When paired with other FedEx Internet of Things technologies, like SenseAware, SMEs can not only track the precise location of a package, but also sensitive environmental conditions like the temperature inside the package and whether it has been exposed to light. This means temperature-sensitive vaccines, for example, can be transported in the proper climate with their integrity protected.
Self-serving digital tools: Making shipping faster and easier
Digital logistics tools are enabling businesses to sell more products across more regions — and right around the world. Self-serving digital tools and online portals allow SMEs to manage their shipments easily and more conveniently, so they can spend more time on what’s most important: growing their business.
The logistical advantages that were previously only available to large companies have now been democratised. FedEx is driving the booming borderless e-commerce sector thanks to its wide range of digital tools that optimise shipping tasks, including:
- Proactive tracking solutions through the FedEx Delivery Manager offer customised delivery that can redirect shipments to more than 1200 retail locations across Australia for collection.
- FedEx Ship Manager Lite: Mobile shipping solution that removes the need to print labels or invoices.
- A variety of other easy-to use online tools to manage the entire shipping journey, from quoting rates and transit times, to scheduling pickups, uploading documents, online tracking and billing.
Delivering for the future
Innovations in automation technologies are playing arguably the biggest role in improving safety, efficiency and redefining superior customer service in the logistics sector. Tackling issues like traffic congestion while enhancing productivity results in faster and more reliable deliveries, which benefits both the customer and SMEs.
There’s also rising demand for contactless and more eco-friendly services, particularly in the wake of the pandemic. This is driving new innovations in autonomous solutions, and FedEx is using these tools to ensure businesses continue to meet customer demands for contactless service and quick deliveries. Here are some of the most exciting FedEx collaborations:
- Neolix is testing autonomous delivery vehicles in China to develop and embrace sustainable, intelligent logistics solutions. The unmanned delivery vehicle creates zero emissions and incorporates self-driving tech while offering multiple safety features. With a maximum cargo capacity of 500kg and a delivery range of 100km, the delivery vehicle can drive day or night, light rain or sun, in fog and other weather conditions.
- Roxo, the SameDay bot, is an autonomous delivery prototype designed to respond to the rapid growth of e-commerce, as well as the complexities and expense of last-mile delivery. This zero-emission battery-powered bot is aware of its surroundings, with machine-learning algorithms helping it detect and avoid obstacles, plot a safe path forward and follow road-safety rules.
- Elroy Air is the chaparral autonomous air cargo system is the first end-to-end autonomous vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aerial cargo system. The pilot program aims to integrate into the wider FedEx Express network.
Advanced logistics solutions such as these can help fuel the growth of SMEs while boosting the customer experience. That’s why there must always be a focus on technology and innovation to thrive in a fast-evolving market.
FedEx Express is one of the world's largest express transportation companies, providing fast and reliable delivery to more than 220 countries and territories. FedEx Express uses a global air-and-ground network to speed delivery of time-sensitive shipments, by a definite time and date.