At the shaded entrance of what looks to be an abandoned factory by the river just south of Berlin, men and women from all over the world lined up for entry to the logistics event of the year, Deliver #2. Decorated with palettes making up the separations between the stands of this conference, as well as very appropriate adornments for the leaders of the European Logistics industry, cozy meeting places were provided for a tête-à-tête. Also embellishing the abandoned factory was recyclable cardboard, maintaining the sustainable platform on which this conference is built.
Two days this week, those the most passionate about European logistics for retail and e-commerce were present at Funkhaus for Deliver Events second installment of Deliver #2: The European Rendez-vous for Logistics Professionals. This event was packed with companies that were striding forward in innovation for the logistics industry, and there was no question that many of these newer technologies were brought to be showcased.
Upon entering the Funkhaus, industry professionals were greeted by drones buzzing overhead, transport robots following their presenters throughout the large reception area, weaving nimbly in and out of people. If there was any question about the future of the logistics industry in e-commerce- it’s been answered. This industry is innovating faster than any other industry implicated in the digital world: and with good reason.
Attendees at Deliver #2 were greeted by lounge areas perfect for having an intimate one-to-one meeting with those who were showcasing their solutions and technologies. A truly international event, there were industry professionals from all over Europe and the rest of the world looking to invest in European logistics.
Deliver #2 was opened by Oliver Igel, mayor of Berlin, and Maros Sefcovic of the European Commission (who couldn’t attend the conference in person, but offered an opening via recorded video). According to Mr. Secovic:
“There is huge potential in tech innovation in logistics: eco-friendly delivery vehicles, drone delivery, and warehouse robots.”
Karima Delli of the European Parliament followed with an opening speech on the future of Europe in logistics and cross-border e-commerce. She mentioned that logistics providers would have to keep abreast of the legal changes that new technological developments would be provoking.
It’s important to remember that amidst the new changes and developments that we make in any industry, the law is usually quite slow to respond. We must keep potential legal ramifications in mind and try to comply as early as possible to avoid experiencing too much disruption to our own business models.
Innovation at Deliver #2: Follow Bots, Picking Robots, Delivery and Last Mile Drones and AI
While this is something to keep in mind, it’s true that the amount of innovation at the event was exhilarating. One gentleman that turned a few heads at Deliver 2 was Cédric Tessier of Effidence, who walked through the event with his “EffiBot” following him by itself.
“This robot will reduce strain and save time for pickers in warehouses. It will follow the picker all over the warehouse and carry the products for him or her, and when it’s full, it can be sent back to the processing section by itself on a pre-programmed route.”
Another, similar product was featured by TwinsWheel, featuring the possibility of last-mile delivery via automated and intelligent robots.
Focusing primarily on large enclosed warehouses and logistics spaces, this robot will eventually be deployed for urban last-mile deliveries.
Robots weren’t the only things following around professionals at the event. EHANG184 drones buzzed overhead and were tested over the river outside of the event by attendees.
— Deliver Events (@DeliverEvents) June 27, 2017
Robotic picking arms were showcased by Delft Robotics, displaying impressive visual recognition and gripping technology that adapts to a variety of different products.
— Deliver Events (@DeliverEvents) June 27, 2017
Robots and drones were at the forefront of innovation that caught the eye at Deliver #2, however innovation was to be found everywhere, and companies that operated outside of robotic tech were just as cutting-edge.
Showcasing Innovation in SAAS and Tech: Deliver #2
Last-Mile Solutions for better precision
However, it wasn’t all about robots and drones at Deliver #2. I had the opportunity to sit down with Javier Juncadella, who was showcasing Nektria’s new product RECShipping (or Responsive E-Commerce Shipping) that not only allows a customer to choose a close window of time for their product to be delivered, but also offers different shipping price points if they happen to be on your predetermined route.
According to Nektria’s research, 80% of customers are willing to pay more just to decide when a product will be delivered at their homes. With resource optimization and logistics pre-planning, you can deliver products when it’s most convenient for your customer and offer free or reduced shipping if the hour is compatible with the route you already have planned.
I also had the opportunity to speak with Anne-Claire Blet, of What3Words, a unique solution that offers simple and logical addresses that can pinpoint a 3m² area for delivery. This solution is particularly interesting in that it offers real last-mile solutions to countries where conventional addresses are disorganized or non-existant.
In developed countries where addresses are archaic, What3Words offers the possibility of last-mile precision right to your doorstep with 3 simple words in any language that are easy to remember and transmit. During their workshop, polled attendees agreed:
Over 80% of online sellers and logistics experts at Deliver #2 agreed that we can improve last-mile delivery.
Not only can we truly improve last-mile delivery, we can improve the sustainability of the logistics industry- as was highlighted throughout Deliver #2.
Sustainability in Logistics: How Deliver #2 Prepares for the Future
Sustainability was definitely a hot topic at Deliver #2: between recyclable cardboard decorations and podiums, to palettes being repurposed to create intimate lounge areas to network and talk business. This was an overall subtle note until day 2 of the event, when sustainability in logistics became the highlight of how we would move forward.
The keynote workshop that really honed in on sustainability in this industry was that of Isabel Rocher of DS Smith. She started off her speech by stating:
In just a few years, e-commerce will be extinct.
She explained that with the focus of omnichannel, e-commerce would eventually cease to exist on its own, offering consumers with an overall experience both digital and tactile that would encompass retail in general.
Her focus, throughout her workshop, was how to make packaging more efficient, offer more product security, and create sustainable packaging with the least amount of waste and the highest reutilization possible.
In fact, she noted, that the majority of customers polled would agree to pay more for packing that was less wasteful:
A huge problem in the packaging industry is the dead space that we find in parcel boxes that are just too large for the package. She stated:
There are 50 touch points in a typical product journey, which creates a huge potential risk for parcel damage.
Not only does excess space inside the package reduce the security of the product inside (by allowing it to move freely as it’s jostled through its journey), but this also takes up more space in warehouses and delivery trucks, which need to be as efficient as possible on their routes.
All experts at the event agreed that we need to do more in each segment of the supply chain to make our processes more sustainable and eco-friendly for the future. Whether that means adopting electric vehicles and robots for last-mile delivery, or simply cutting down on the amount of packaging we use to send parcels, Deliver #2 truly showcased the potential of the logistics industry in the very near future.
There was so much more amazing content and insight given by these amazing professionals, with much to see and do throughout the event. This inspiring and futuristic event shone a light on what we can achieve in logistics when we innovate together.
It was truly an incredible event, and we at E-Commerce Nation are sincerely honored to have been a part of it!