TF Spotlight: The changing dynamics of e-Marketplace
Primarily acting as demand and supply boards, marketplaces have come a long way. Digitising Logistics processes of price discovery, tendering, e-bookings, and service settlements are some of the crucial changes. The current systems focus essentially on matching demand with supply, but the future lies in enabling technologies such as AI, ML, Blockchain, predictive analysis, and probabilistic algorithms engines to provide on-the-fly custom-tailored data insights to a user for informed decision-making, offering a comprehensive analysis of spot rates, thereby reduced costs, achieve better service levels, enhanced efficiency, better control over cargo movement, maximise and resource utilisation.
For instance, in the US, empty miles are estimated to range between 14 -20% resulting in a loss of around $3.3 billion in 2016 for empty runs. An estimated 80 billion km are used by empty trucks. In India, with over 5.6 million trucks, of the average 80-90 trips that each vehicle undertakes in a year, capacity is under-utilised to the extent of 30-35% on the return leg with the same scenario playing across multiple geographies.
Marketplaces that are quick to adopt emerging technologies could have a first-mover advantage. The present process of matching demand with capacity is lop-sided, in the sense, the freight cost is driven by the shipper who has multiple options to select a vendor with the lowest price. Lower freight costs need not necessarily translate into lower costs for the final product. Efficiency levels, access to tracking cargo, vehicle movements, ease of documentation, competence in terms of cargo delivery timelines, and risk mitigation measures related to cargo safety during movement. All contribute to a way to the pricing of the final product being moved.
Our solutions address this scourge by using technology to match demand with capacity (as against the traditional pricing), ensure capacity optimisation for the service provider (including identifying profitable freight) and optimised costs for the shipper, building trust between all stakeholders.
The pandemic has had a significant impact on supply chains, leading to several Logistic majors reshaping their operating models and increasing their efficiency and resilience. There was a direct impact on the industry with the labour shortage, fragmented supply lines, patchy information infrastructure, capacity under-utilisation, and increased freight rates. E.g. in India, the outbreak led to a shortage of drivers resulting in piled-up containers across multiple Ports.
The market was further solidified by friendly government policies which upsurge the need for transparent, flexible, and easily adjustable Logistics services fostering the foundation of digital brokerage platforms matching the Logistics industry’s different demands, bringing digitalisation to the forefront. The role of fulfilment centres and intermediate warehouses is also likely to evolve with a major thrust on on-demand warehousing in the next 3 -5 years. The e- Marketplaces provide centralised information on rates services of different Logistics providers and are digitally tailored to meet the needs of each customer. These intelligent marketplaces (measuring freight averages over time) are evolving to potentially digitalise the entire end-to-end Logistics process of the supply chain. Logistics providers can actively participate in these platforms, ensuring their services not only remain price competitive but highly flexible with optimised utilisation.
The e-Marketplace as a platform connects service providers and service receivers in a single-frame marketplace. It functions more as a freight exchange platform, where price discovery plays a crucial role in connecting stakeholders for shipment orders. However, beyond this, stakeholders engaged in the trade are involved in executing other activities related to the shipment which more or less stays out of the scope of the marketplaces.
Though some marketplaces allow limited tracking at critical milestones, complete visibility on the shipment is still elusive cargo has to necessarily pass through multiple stakeholders. This is further compounded by the fact that corporate functions in siloes and their view of the shipment is restricted primarily to their jurisdictions.
The Control Tower kicks in to complement the marketplace bringing together different functional perspectives in a single window. It ensures ease of tracking cargo across multiple stakeholders and multimodal movements, ease in generating and sharing documents and data electronically with multiple stakeholders in real-time, enhances cooperation with stakeholders, and integrates with different stakeholders in the supply chain negating disparities in data streams across multiple legacy systems. It aligns responsibilities and ensures data is read in the same way across organisations. It assures improved data quality amidst updated data in real-time. It is available to the users to take corrective action for any impending bottlenecks bringing clarity and uniformity to all stakeholders.