Impact of internet retail and new technologies will completely transform commerce and shipping by 2028, logistics expert will tell maritime forum.
The expansion of Amazon and the wider impact of internet retail and new technologieswill completely transform and redefine global commerce and logistics within a decade.
That’s the message ParcelHero’s head of consumer research, David Jinks, will bring to the Digital Ship Maritime CIO Forum in London next week.
“From Amazon’s own aircraft and shipping services, to deliveries direct to consumers’ fridges; and from Blockchain and the IoT to 3D printing – the impact of e-commerce means global supply chains will be transformed by 2028,” Jinks said, in a preview of his presentation next week.
At a time when US trade policies seem to be the biggest threat to the global supply chain, Jinks argues that home shopping will have a far bigger impact on the industry than US president Donald Trump.
He highlighted the collapse in the last few years of several major ‘High Street’ chains and claims “this tsunami will reach global trading networks next”.
Jinks predicts that companies such as Amazon will use their own logistics services to drive international trade, bypassing traditional global logistics providers, noting: “Amazon Prime Members spend twice as much as non-members with the e-commerce giant and it uses free deliveries, one-hour services, etc., as a hook to gain new members. By persuading retailers to use its Fulfilment by Amazon Pan European/US services, Amazon will create new shipping patterns and transform the industry. It’s all part of its avowed aim to be the pipeline through which everything is delivered.”
He says the evidence for this is available for anyone to see already on their doorsteps, citing the example of the UK. “Amazon Logistics now delivers most of your Amazon packages, not the Royal Mail, for example,” he notes.
“And don’t go thinking Amazon Logistics is only about delivering its own products; that’s not the half of it. It has moved into Chinese/US logistics as a provider of entire services.
“Amazon Logistics+ is targeting small and mid-sized Chinese wholesalers – they might be Amazon sellers, they might be Alibaba users – selling to the US. So how long before Amazon controls its own fleet of ships too?” he asks.
“Amazon already runs its own aircraft fleet. As of January, Amazon Air had a fleet of 32 Boeing 767 freighters flying out of Kentucky.”
Meanwhile, closer to home, home deliveries and e-commerce are transforming the requirements of the domestic supply chains.
“A new hub and spoke logistics model will feature mega hubs on city outskirts feeding small hubs inside urban areas,” he predicts. “Electric vehicles, droids and drones can then be used for final mile deliveries as the crackdown on diesel intensifies.”
Looking at some of Amazon’s more creative visions of the future, he highlights how “Amazon has patented floating warehouses called Airborne Fulfilment Centres that sort items en route and could be used at special events, etc. AFCs would be in position over major cities ready for peak delivery times and would be ideal for music festivals and sporting events.”
But back down to earth, Jinks also points to other new technologies that will fundamentally change global supply chains. “The Internet of Things means appliances such as fridges and coffee machines will soon be re-ordering our supplies of coffee or milk automatically,” he predicts. “That means demand can be anticipated, cutting down on storage requirements.
“And our internet purchases in the future will be delivered to our car boot, or even into our kitchen, while we are out. And soon smart packaging will alert shoppers where a product is in the aisles and enable our pie to communicate cooking instructions direct to the microwave.”
He also believes that 3D printing will bring “an entirely new dimension in the supply chain”, noting: “Already domestic printers have moved beyond plastics and resins to producing items in steel and titanium that build up from fine strips. But what of larger items such as car parts, plastic furniture, etc.?
“It’s probable manufacturers and e-commerce retailers will develop a hybrid manufacturing and distribution centre, creating and despatching larger items that can’t be produced on a home 3D printer.”
He concludes: “Perhaps one day the only thing we ever ship globally will be strips of plastic and metals for use in domestic, hybrid manufacturing-distribution centres and High Street printers. 3D printing will certainly create a new dimension in supply chains as products are made available for delivery literally hot off the press.”