E-commerce sales are on track to hit $523 billion by 2020, up 56% from $335 billion in 2015, according to Forrester Research, Inc. And by 2020, the firm expects 270 million consumers to be browsing and buying online, up from 244 million in 2015. Business-tobusiness (B2B) e-commerce sales are hitting even bigger targets, and on track to surpass $1 trillion by 2020, Forrester reports, up from $305 billion in 2014.
As manufacturers, distributors, and retailers struggle to wrap their arms around what these upticks mean for their businesses, the pathway from point of origin to end user for this billions of dollars in merchandise continues to be assessed, dissected, and approached in various ways.
According to the 25th Annual Trends and Issues in Transportation and Logistics, e-commerce has both shippers and third-party logistics providers at a strategic crossroads right now.
“For many companies, the growth of e-commerce has drastically changed how they manage this distribution channel,” the study’s authors write, "and they’ve worked towards creating a unified and coherent omni-channel strategy."
Of course, achieving that unified and coherent strategy isn’t always easy, nor is there necessarily a good roadmap to follow.
Shippers are literally pioneering new territory in their quest to achieve this Holy Grail. “And as many have learned, omni-channel is not just another distribution option to be added to the other independent networks managed by the company,” according to the study. “It requires an integrated strategy to create and deliver value for all members of the supply chain—regardless of where the customer is shopping, what device they’re using, and how often they login/out of the system."