Voices from Accenture Public Service

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As consumer behaviors and expectations evolve in the digital world, new businesses have sprung up to take advantage – offering innovative ways to meet consumers’ desire for choice, convenience and control in how they receive their deliveries. It’s an area that’s attracting attention from investors. Notably, since 2013 VC funding for logistics start-ups has grown more than 10-fold. In 2016, investors backed a record 245 startups in shipping and supply-chain management worth nearly $3 billion.

The trends driving the marketplace have increasingly centered on solving the last mile challenge. With consumers now considering (and rating) delivery as a major element of their overall retail experience, it’s little wonder that retailers have responded so decisively. By making inventory more local, they’re aiming to give their customers more predictable services. Giving them greater control and certainty about when, how and where they’ll receive their goods. And retailers are continuing to push the boundaries by extending when they’ll accept orders for same-day delivery to as late in the day as possible and on weekends.

Addressing those needs requires delivery organizations to operate more flexibly than ever. Fortunately, another growing trend – crowdsourced labor – is arriving at just the right time to help them do that. The question is how can traditional delivery organizations take advantage?

Flexible labor pools are more likely to be available later in the day and on weekends. By augmenting existing workforce with this new labor resource, traditional delivery organizations could offer a much more adaptive, responsive network than they have today. Using new digital tools and data to orchestrate that network is essential. And there are already tools in the market today that can do just that. Take Waze, for example. It’s revolutionizing the way people move around by providing near real-time information about how traffic is flowing and optimizing routes accordingly.

What could all this look like in practice? Possibly a network based on predicted demand, localized inventory, crowdsourced labor and new data sources all controlled and optimized by an artificial intelligence engine that constantly learns and adapts. It’s suggests a model for a dynamic and continuously optimized local network that scales up and down to meet changing demand, allocating resources and work to eliminate non-value adding activity.

So, is crowdsourced labor a threat or an opportunity for traditional post and parcel organizations? If they don’t respond, it’s clearly a threat. That said, traditional delivery organizations are ideally positioned to take advantage by combining their existing network with the new, more flexible models. That enables them to compete at significantly lower cost than other competitors as well as providing a service that meets the changing needs of digital retailers and their customers. And better and cheaper is always a winning proposition.

See this post on LinkedIn: Crowdsourced Delivery: Threat or Opportunity?

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