Location Based Logistics – Why Forecast Should Have Stayed

Two things triggered me to finish this blog post, which has been sitting in my concepts folder for weeks. The first was a tweet by Dutch Jazz Saxophone Player Tom Beek saying: “I slept like a blog”, which reminded me of how long ago it was that I wrote an actual blog post for LogisticsMatter.com. (Check out his site www.tombeek.nl for some excellent jazz BTW!!)

The second was an e-mail from the people at Forecast (www.foreca.st) stating that they have to shut down Forecast per July 1st. While their App has not been successful, their concept certainly is. It actually was the trigger for this Location Based Logistics blog post.

The issue that is at the heart of this post is missed deliveries. Missed deliveries are most common in the Business to Consumer market. How many times did you come home from work, finding a note on the doormat stating that there was a delivery attempt for that book you ordered, but you weren’t there? Exactly. Extremely annoying! And not only for you. The parcel carrier has to make a second attempt at delivering the parcel, which raises the cost of shipping the parcel, which in turn raises the shipping cost in the webshop or, if shipping cost are included, the price of the product you are buying.

Parcel carriers are trying to minimize missed deliveries by giving their customers notice of the delivery. Best they can do is about a 4 hour window, which can be frustrating and costly! The Annual “Cost of Waiting” Research done by TOA Technology in the UK concluded that the total cost of people having to wait at home for a delivery in the UK totalled GBP 2 Billion (USD 3.1 billion or EUR 2.5 billion)!

Location Based Logistics

Now back to the people at Forecast. Forecast is/was an app for your smart phone which enabled you to let your friends now where you were going to be. It was sort of an add on to Foursquare/Facebook, which enables people to let their friends now where they are. It is this combination that poses a potential solution for the missed deliveries by parcel carriers. If you already let your friends now where you are and, more important, where you are going to be(!), why not tell selected parcel carriers? If a parcel carrier would know where you are going to be, then the chances of a missed delivery are minimal! The ship-to address would be replaced by the ship-to person! Location Based Logistics.

This brings me to the 3 T’s which will enable this: Technology, Trust and Time.

Technology: The technological capabilities needed to make this possible are already there. The consumer side: all that is needed to locate a person is a GPS enabled Smartphone. On the carrier side you need computing power and storage space for a database of past and future locations of customers.

Trust: Trust is key in this. Consumers need to trust the carriers not be misuse the data they gather about your location.

Time: Carriers are currently not flexible enough to switch from Ship-to Address to Ship-to Person. It’s going to take time to make their organization, people, and systems flexible enough for this dynamic way of planning deliveries.

I think that Time is the only thing it will take for this Location Based Logistics solution to be tried by one of the large carriers. Technology is already there and there are always early adopters that are willing to Trust a company with a new concept, and not miss their delivery!

How long do you think it will take for this to happen? Or won’t it…?

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