International expansion creates unique logistics challenges

Warehouse distribution software programs are a reliable supplement to fleet management operations that find themselves spread thin from a rapid increase in consumer activity across multiple retail channels.

The growing popularity of the e-commerce industry has presented many companies with unique challenges. For example, an article fromSupply Management, a magazine covering global procurement and supply chain issues, cited a recent survey from the business intelligence company SCM World that identified five major challenges facing fleet operations in today's economy. Responses from 750 supply chain professionals indicated the increasing complexity of customer fulfillment is a major obstacle standing in the way of continued business growth.

In fact, 55 percent of respondents said e-commerce sales have resulted in an overwhelming shift in the number of channels consumers access to purchase goods. As a result, retailers and shipping companies must meet this growing demand head-on by expanding distribution efforts on a global scale. Nearly 55 percent of professionals surveyed also said they are currently building new distribution centers that bring businesses closer to target consumers. Forty-eight percent reported they are also in the middle of improving their existing direct-to-customer fulfillment services.

The impact of international growth
As companies develop a more global presence, logistics issues become increasingly complex and expensive, according to an op-ed published in Retail Week and written by Tristan Rogers, chief executive of international retail consulting agency Concrete Platform. He said international businesses often find 15 percent of their retail sales have twice the cost because of the difficulty of transporting goods across geographic boundaries.

"Most retailers don't want to talk about it, but some companies are racking up millions of miles by sourcing internationally and then distributing from a location that is far away from the original sourcing point," Rogers wrote.

One of the most reliable solutions to this problem, however, is the use of more relevant and dynamic data. Rogers said fleet managers can have better control of their operations by utilizing advanced tools that gather valuable information. New technology can also improve the communication process, which is another common issue many growing operations face. Companies that expand their fleets must have an effective way to keep track of the many stakeholders necessary for carrying out the shipping process.

For example, logistics software programs can make it easier for organizations to make the most efficient use of available drivers and vehicles. Companies can also experience more fluid integration between separate distribution centers by investing in warehouse distribution tools.