Supply Chain

Challenges and solutions for the integration of e-commerce in cities

E-commerce growth is challenging our supply chains. The existing supply chain designs are complex and are undergoing dramatic development. Many supply chains are not adapted or optimised for the anticipated increase in services and volumes. The key challenges in urban areas are the resources required, environmental and cost efficiency of last mile transport, and the location and function of facilities.

These challenges resonate throughout the supply chain and in urban planning– from warehouse design and location, delivery networks of hubs, depots and transportation, to and into consumers’ private homes. Smart packaging solutions that improve fill rates, reduce waste, and enable recycling and re-use are a natural part of efficient logistics. The ineffeciency of today’s solutions highlights the need for innovative thinking to identify solutions for efficient distribution principles and supply chain strategies and design, integrated into urban structures. Stakeholders throughout the supply chain will benefit by looking beyond their current boundaries and interests to search for efficient solutions through collaboration, co-ordination, co-location and co-transportation.

Incorporating new trends and needs into urban planning and design will benefit citizens as well as e-commerce businesses. Stakeholders in urban logistics and those responsible for land and property planning need to be co-ordinated as future requirements are specified for urban logistics facilities’ location and function. Adequate domestic logistics reception capability and capacity also need to be ensured. Logistics facilities will have different requirements for space and location as compared with more traditional set-ups.

Public authorities and other powerful stakeholders can promote and support new ideas and new thinking regarding the development of solutions for efficient distribution principles and supply chain strategies and design. Authorities can also inform citizens about the impact of e-commerce on urban areas. Logistics needs to be given high priority on the regional political agenda, and authorities can guide development through regulations and incentives to steer development in a desirable direction.