These two key factors will dominate the consumer goods supply chain agenda in 2016
Forecasts show that 2016 will continue the trend of minimal year-on-year growth in consumer goods spending, both in the UK and across Europe; in this environment manufacturers will carry on looking for opportunities to consolidate and pare down costs, focusing on developing world markets with higher growth potential.
However, competitive pressures are substantial: manufacturers based in the developing world are leveraging their low cost base and local knowledge to win both in their home and international markets. It is clear that, as we saw in 2015, cost control and consolidation will continue to dominate the consumer goods space.
Nick Miller, head of FMCG at Crimson & Co commented: “2015 saw a continuation of the effects of the ‘Great Recession’ starting in 2007, with historically low revenue growth, margins and shareholder returns.
In the Eurozone for instance, growth slowed to 0.3 per cent in November, with growth in Italy as low as 0.2 per cent. China has also experienced significant slow-down, with Chinese economic growth at a six-year low of 6.9 per cent in Q3 2015.
“Seemingly as a result of this growth, some of the largest acquisitions and takeovers in 2015 have focused on cutting costs in supply goods and services to market. Kraft and Heinz’s merger last July has led to multiple cost cutting measures, as has the more recent take-over of SABMiller by ABInbev. This trend in the supply chain is surely set to continue, with larger companies merging to create greater economies of scale to further leverage low cost methods in order to reach their target audiences.
“In this way, supply chain innovation will also be driven by a need to curb costs and expenditures. Small companies, that are more flexible than larger corporations, are able to react to market developments faster, changing their strategies to bring fresh ideas for supply chain excellence. Larger players, unable to invest in this dynamic way of working, have tended to buy innovation by acquiring smaller companies. Coca Cola has already purchased Innocent drinks with this aim in mind.”
Given the lack of growth in Europe and China, many organisations are looking to the developing world for growth opportunities, but typically lose out to regional players more comfortable with the local environment.
Miller explained: “Smaller companies in developing areas have significant advantages over global organisations seeking to expand locally. Already present in the area, they will have a favourable customer base and deep market know-how over external players. In addition, they have immediate proximity to this rapidly expanding customer base, with naturally greater flexibility to be able to react quicker to market developments.
“Just as with innovations in the supply chain, large businesses will likely look to purchase small companies in developing areas to speed their time to market, instead of building their own on-the-ground agencies. This will be a more cost-effective way of speeding growth in these regions, as well as providing immediate expertise into valuable areas.”
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.