The Role of Logistics in Reviving Retail Markets [PRO]

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Everybody knows about “bricks and clicks” in the supply chain, but I have a question: Can the clicks save the bricks for those who’ve been getting Amazoned? In other words, does an increasingly fragmented and tech-enabled market for logistics services have the right “stuff” — the information-based mortar to put traditional retail’s bricks back together? While Amazon’s vertical integration has experts predicting a knockout blow to competitors, across the supply chain the industry’s largest players are getting even larger and they’re learning how to counterpunch.

Amazon has single-handedly accelerated the evolution of logistics from a retail and distribution standpoint. But Wal-Mart is no slouch either, even if it’s generally a step behind. Together, their demand and requirements for ever-increasing service levels have quickly reshaped the logistics services landscape, redefining what’s possible not only for their own businesses but for all businesses across industry. Yet the mega players aren’t just in the retail end of the supply chain. Contract manufacturers are going big and going digital (e.g., Flex’s foray into incubating supply chain startups like Elementumand Jabil, too). Carriers are also supersized, with FedEx and UPS are expanding their digital capabilities, and DHL is doing some extremely innovative work in supply risk management that we’ll be featuring soon in an upcoming PRO series. The logistics market is a very interesting ecosystem for the broader supply chain because logistics is like the circulatory system in an animal — and it’s critical to support all the animals big and small, not just the gorillas.

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