Retailers sometimes find themselves in a difficult position deciding what is their top priority when running their international supply chains. Historically, there were two key variables: Speed to market and cost. Do we ship all our goods as fast as possible or via the cheapest transportation method? Most of the time, one variable would counteract the other, with a clear inverse correlation between cost and lead-times.

These days, the spectrum is rapidly changing. On one hand, we have another key variable entering the conversation by overwhelming popular demand: sustainability. Measuring and reducing their CO2 footprint is now a “must” for global retailers. Not only are retailers recruiting experts to drive strategy in this area, but it is also becoming a crucial part of their procurement processes.
On the other hand, sourcing and distribution patterns are also fast evolving. Many retailers are expanding and diversifying their supply chains, adjusting their sourcing and distribution centres’ locations, driven by risk mitigation, ethical standards, cost and proximity to markets. As a result, the key decision process is no longer a question of how do we best ship our goods from point A to point B. We now have options A,B,C,D… etc and so, for retailers, it becomes a permutation puzzle, with multiple combinations possible across all origin and destination points.

It has always been difficult to quantify the true impact of each of these variables. It might be more expensive to move certain goods by air freight, however, if the product misses a specific seasonal window, it might lose most of its value altogether, making cheaper transport irrelevant. It is challenging to get true visibility of how all the variables interconnect within the business and, ultimately, understand what the right decision is when selecting the best route, mode of transport, and shipping timing of your product.

However, one thing is certain. The more variables we add, and the more complex supply chains become, it is more important than ever to rely on technology to ensure that we make the best decision. There is no right or wrong answer for choosing the optimal combination of variables. Each business is unique and each shipment will require a slightly different approach, based on what is relevant at that specific point of time. What is important, is for retailers to have access to the right level of tools that can enhance their decision-making process, powered by real-time, data-driven insights.

At EV Cargo Technology, our vision is to transform logistics into a technology industry. Working closely with our clients, we strive to solve the industry’s key challenges together and provide the visibility and technology needed to help retailers find the right answer for their supply chains.