Taylor sees e-commerce as the real road transport revolution

Automation across the supply chain hogging limelight prematurely

Taylor sees e-commerce as the real road transport revolution
Are self-driving trucks really that close?


Isuzu Australia's director and chief operator officer Phil Taylor believes ecommere is a more immediate challenges to transport and logistics than automation.

In a commentary on the industry's direction, Taylor notes that most of the attention-grabbing news stories coming out of today’s logistics and road transport industries concern the latest steps companies are taking to automate some, if not all, aspects of the supply chain.

While he accepts that the industry is in a state of flux, he sees aspects of automation that create such riveting headlines as "still a pipe dream in the Australian transport and logistics industry".

"Presently, the media coverage of our industry seems to focus on very controlled demonstrations that are often hailed as the future of freight transport," Taylor says.

"What these stories commonly fail to mention is that demonstrations of co-called ‘autonomous technology’ are occurring in controlled environments under the watchful eyes of teams of engineers."

A more important change sweeping the freight transport industry for Taylor is the "tidal wave of Business to Consumer (B2C) trade".

"In days past, the transport of goods was being carried out primarily under the Business to Business (B2B) model and, as such, required a traditional, mass-scale transport solution," he says.

"But with Australians currently spending more than $21 billion dollars online per annum, the game has changed.

"A business model that worked well in the past won’t be enough to keep transport operators competitive when people are flocking towards e-commerce in droves.

"The transport industry needs to become more agile to capitalise on the opportunities presented in the B2C age."

Operators need to be considering how that agility can be factored in to every aspect of their business.

"Major transport operators are already adapting their business models in response to B2C trade to try and stay ahead of the curve," Taylor says.

"By offering innovative logistics solutions, these transport operators are increasing the attractiveness of B2C selling for both business and consumer. This, in turn, will only accelerate the uptake of B2C trading."

What he dubs the "B2C revolution" empowers customers and, in such a consumer-focused climate, the market, will not tolerate an inflexible business model. That means companies need to invest in logistics strategies that prioritise vehicle maximisation and technology that affords customers more control over their package.

But that’s not all transport operators need to do.

"The companies that flourish in the current climate aren’t just the ones that have the right processes in place," Taylor says, "but also the right people representing their brand," Taylor says.

"If you’ve ordered something online, the only human you’re going to see in relation to that purchase is the delivery driver who shows up on your doorstep."

He feels transport companies should focus on customer service training for all staff, including drivers, to gain a competitive edge.

"There’s no denying the B2C commerce revolution has placed a weighty onus on businesses to carefully re-examine every aspect of their operation. But operators who consider the wide-reaching implications of this shift are likely to uncover a raft of opportunities.

"If savvy operators can separate futuristic fiction from the fact of tomorrow and identify these opportunities, they stand poised to thrive in the modern logistics market."

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