Bricks and Clicks: The New Road Warriors

The slow economy, bulging inventories and heightened customer expectations all demand shippers' transportation and logistics operations exemplify perfection. Is the transportation and logistics industry on par with the rest of the e-commerce world? Here's...



Despite some inefficiencies with the transportation and distribution portion, commercial truck leasing and maintenance, the other half of Ryder's business, is far from being neglected. Trucks still transport 85 percent of all goods shipped within the United States, but the technology is getting better. For instance, Ryder's Fast Track Maintenance program uses in-cab technology to capture vehicle-maintenance data, diagnose problems and make repairs. It can also come up with some fairly creative, low-tech solutions for customers with unique problems. According to the company's Web site, Golden Eagle Distributors of Tucson, Ariz., found it a hassle to return their trucks to Ryder every night just for refueling and routine maintenance. Ryder's solution was to install gas pumps and fueling stations at the beer distributor's headquarters, sending its service staff to Golden Eagle instead. Now, the only reason trucks go back to Ryder is for major repairs.


Keep On Truckin'


As evidenced by Ryder's e-business efforts, no brick-and-mortar company can currently plug in a one-stop solution and then post a sign that says, We're e-enabled. Every major organization converting itself to a brick-and-click must spend enormous amounts of time just to find the right partners. AMR Research offers additional advice when making the transformation to automated processes in this industry, or any industry for that matter. First, AMR Research suggests that, even in an economic downturn, companies must continue to invest in e-logistics technology and services. Next, companies should not blame market confusion in the transportation and logistics space for lack of action. And finally, if an e-logistics provider's value proposition is not immediately clear, move on to another provider.


By its very nature, the transportation and logistics industry is about movement. It's about collaborative management between numerous entities. Businesses used to think that if companies were using electronic data interchange (EDI), facsimiles, telephones and basic e-mail, then communication techniques were state-of-the-art. But we live in a real-time world, and customer expectations are much higher. AMR Research and others predict that the Internet in this industry will have radical and exciting consequences for business across the board. In the meantime, the traditional road warriors are engaged in the transformation, and they've already discovered the benefits to the bottom line.


See the sidebar "Transforming Advice: Brick to Click" for more information.
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