Smart logistics and the prize for planning

La logistica smart e le gioie della pianificazione

Not everyone is in a rush to go somewhere, to deliver or receive a parcel.

Fast services are cool and easily fit into the news: on-demand, less than 1-hour, 1-hour, 2-hours, same-day. Do you need to travel fast to the other side of town? You call a cab or grab a Uber. Do you need to restock your baby’s diapers right away? You push an Amazon Dash button, place a Prime-Now order or summon Postmates.

But what if you want to enjoy a service or delivery and have time to actually plan for it? That’s the word: “planning”. It might sound boring but it’s where the most extraordinary innovation is taking place.

Mobile apps, route managers and pricing algorithms will be the “holy” triad for 2017. Planning is environment friendly because it optimizes the number, load and driving time of vehicles on the road. It’s wallet-friendly, because a good algorithm is able to push the end-user towards the cheapest and friendliest solution. It’s employee-friendly because it tells employers when and for how long their workforce is going to be needed, whereas on-demand has to rely on crowdsourced fleets who idle between one peak and the other (and so are paid by the minute or by the delivery).

On-demand is here to stay and it’s one of the driving forces behind the explosion of eCommerce: it’s hard and it’s wasteful but, if gracefully paired with its good-natured twin brother the resulting balance could help us ferry towards a sustainable future (economically and ecologically).

Example: you live in the town of Potenza, Italy and have two children and an elderly grandparent to manage. You can spend the day driving like crazy through town or you can use Pickmeapp, a smart startup that lets you book commutes for children and elderly people through a mobile app associated with a GPS bracelet that shows the real-time position of your dear ones on a map. It’s cheap, because it has time to plan its routes. It’s green because it’s a form of carpooling. It’s employee-friendly because drivers work all day on a contract basis and are not freelance individuals sent on single errands every time someone pushes a button.

Example 2: what Milkman does in Milan. For every same-day order we happily carry out, our electric vans deliver tens of parcels that users have requested on appointment through our mobile app or by checking out on one of the eCommerce with which we collaborate. These deliveries run on a virtuous circle: smart pricing guides users towards a smart day/hour placement of their delivery. This means no half-empty vans, shortest routes, happy drivers and happy shoppers.

Remember: disruption, despite its ominous name, is a builder, not a destroyer.

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