EU logistics firms aren't utilising the benefits of social media
Logistics industry reports show a weak increase in transportation volumes, despite high pressure on margins. Rising costs in energy such as oil and fuel can only be compensated by innovative ideas and new approaches.
One thing that logistics companies should be investing in is their relationship with customers, according to a sector study by ABN AMRO.
When it comes to customer relationships, the use of social media is inevitable, according to the Dutch Chamber of Commerce.
The Dutch Chamber of Commerce, partner in the EU Logistics hub, along with a number of organisations from the Kennis Distributiecentra Logistiek, conducted a study looking into how logistics companies use social media to achieve their goals.
According to findings, social media offers the perfect tool to stay connected with your clients, allowing companies to exchange ideas and find new opportunities to cooperate, and ensuring your organisation won't end up buried amongst the others. Optimal use of social media will keep your relations alive, puts yourself in the spotlight and ensures the often requested transparency.
Following a survey of 655 companies, figures revealed that 46 percent of surveyed companies make use of social media, a low figure in comparison to other sectors. Almost half (40 percent) of decision makers don't see an advantage in social media for the logistics sector and this combined with a lack of knowledge about social media application in 36 percent of respondents, and budget constraints preventing investment in social media development (10 percent), means that many logistics providers are unwilling to make the necessary developments.
The low investment rate is surprising as it generally has lower costs than traditional communication channels such as television and media advertising. Only 10 percent of the surveyed companies plan to invest in social media in the near future, with 50 percent of companies confirming that they do not plan to make use of social media at all.
Social media in the Dutch logistics sector
The most common platform for social media marketing in the Dutch logistics sector is LinkedIn, which is being used in 75 percent of cases using social media. Facebook (69 percent) and Twitter (49 percent) follow closely, however are less often used in comparison to other industries.
According to 70 percent of companies using social media, one of the main goals is to improve branding and establish deep relations with customers, partners and stock holders. Over one third (40 percent) also use social media to come up with new ideas, while 20 percent use it for recruiting purposes. Despite these goals, social media is not considered as a tool for sales activities.
A closer look at the use of social media in the logistics sector revealed that most of the social media activities are limited to private communication. Only 25 percent of the logistics managers focus their communication on lead management or customer support (B2B).
The study revealed that 41 percent of social media marketers recognized a gain in branding, where 35 percent have built new relationships and 30 percent found inspiration for their business. A remarkable 12 percent stated to have acquired new business, however 30 percent did not recognise any benefit at all.
Use different networks for different applications
The application and gains of social media strongly depend on the specific business sectors. Logistics service contractors are the first to run social media marketing activities, where nearly 80 percent already use LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. Transhipment contractors also make use of social media, but they strongly focus on LinkedIn, most likely due to the effectiveness of targeting.
When it comes to the different social media channels, LinkedIn offers by far the most target specific communication channels, especially regarding B2B communication. Groups, company pages, subscriptions, profiles, and an advertising system similar to Google AdWords allow companies to work on various online marketing goals, such as branding, lead management, traffic, etc.
Twitter and Facebook are particularly suited for B2C activities, because these networks mainly target the social environment of their users. Professional company profiles, groups, company pages, and advertisements are possible as well, however the targeting is not as sophisticated as in LinkedIn.
While Twitter serves to share short information and send messages, Facebook enhances branding by interaction (Facebook Apps) and visual appeal. The right channels have to be selected, according to the goals of online marketing investments.
FedEx is Reshaping Last Mile with Autonomous Vehicles
FedEx is embarking on an expanded test of autonomous, driver-less delivery vehicles to develop its last-mile logistics.
The US logistics firm piloted autonomous vehicles from Nuro in April this year, and the pair will now explore that further in a multi-year partnership. Cosimo Leipold, Nuro’s head of partnerships, said the collaboration "will enable innovative, industry-first product offerings that will better everyday life and help make communities safer and greener".
FedEx will explore a variety of on-road use cases for the autonomous fleet, including multi-stop and appointment-based deliveries, going beyond more traditional applications of the technology in single-route movement of goods from A-B. Exponential growth in ecommerce is spurring its broader experimentation in new autonomy solutions, Fed-Ex says, both in-warehouse and on-road.
“FedEx was built on innovation, and it continues to be an integral part of our culture and business strategy,” said Rebecca Yeung, Vice President, Advanced Technology and Innovation, FedEx Corporation. “We are excited to collaborate with an industry leader like Nuro as we continue to explore the use of autonomous technologies within our operations.”
The changing role of couriers
Unlike structured delivery networks, operating under long-term partnerships and contracts, agility is where couriers deliver true value - and their ability to deftly solve last-mile fulfilment has most acutely been felt during the pandemic. For the billions of people around the world forced to stay at home to protect themselves and their communities from the spreading COVID-19 virus, couriers have been a constant. They may have been the only knock at the door some people experienced for weeks or months at a time.
But the last-mile has been uprooted by a boom in ecommerce, a shift that has been most apparent in the UK, US, China and Japan, according to the Global Parcel Delivery Market Insight Report 2021 by Apex Insight. These are markets with dominant economies and populations used to running their lives with a tap of a screen or double-click of a mouse.
“Getting last mile delivery right has long been a challenge for retailers,” says Kees Jacobs, Vice President, Consumer Goods and Retail at Capgemini. “In 2019, 97% of retail organisations felt their last-mile delivery models were not sustainable for full-scale implementation across all locations. Despite increasing demand from customers, companies were struggling to make the last mile profitable and efficient.”
Jacobs says that the pandemic alleviated some of these stresses in the short term. With no other option, consumers were understanding and tolerant, if not entirely happy, with longer delivery times and less transparent tracking. “But, as extremely high delivery demand continues to be normal, customers will expect brands to contract their delivery times,” he adds.
Last mile's role in ESG
Demand and volume weren’t the only things that have changed during the pandemic - businesses looked closer to home and as a result became more sustainable. Bricks and mortar stores were transformed from mini-showrooms to quasi-fulfilment centres. Online retailers and other businesses sought local solutions to ship more faster. In densely populated London, UK alone, Accenture found that delivery van emissions dropped by 17%, while Chicago, USA and Sydney, Australia saw similar emissions savings.