Delivery Networks: The Key to Multimodal Transit & Omnichannel Success

The wholesale distribution and retail logistics landscape is witnessing a remarkable transformation. At the heart of this change is the vital role of delivery networks, which have become the backbone of both multimodal distribution and omnichannel commerce. Products are no longer just static items on shelves but dynamic entities on a journey, seamlessly moving from air to land and sea to road.

It’s here where delivery management solutions like those from OneRail shine. We could start and end this conversation with OneRail’s national network of over 12 million couriers. Or where it fits in the delivery ecosystem. But the truth is a robust delivery network goes far beyond numbers and revolves around innovative technology and solutions that change how products move and how they connect with consumers.

The Core of Multimodal Distribution

Imagine your product as a traveler embarking on a multi-legged journey. Your product might start its voyage in a cargo plane, cruise along in a freight train and complete the final leg in a delivery van. This seamless transition between different modes of transport is the essence of multimodal distribution. It’s not just about connecting dots on a map; it’s about choosing the best routes and modes to ensure timely, cost-effective and safe delivery to its final destination: your customer.

Integrating Various Transport Modes

Much like a well-oiled machine, a robust delivery network functions best when its various components — rail, road, air and sea — seamlessly integrate. Imagine a logistics world that functions like a magic carpet, where goods smoothly transition from ships to trucks and planes to trains without a hiccup. A multimodal network like this acts as the backbone of global commerce, efficiently connecting different modes of transport to speed up deliveries and make them more flexible. For instance, if there’s a delay at sea, logistics teams can reroute shipments via air or land to minimize disruptions.

But how is all of this managed so smoothly? That’s where technology steps in.

Technological Advancements in Delivery

Technology in logistics is like a magic wand that turns the seemingly impossible into reality. With advancements in artificial intelligence (AI), drones and autonomous vehicles, multimodal distribution has leaped into the future. AI helps predict the best routes and modes of transport, optimize delivery schedules, and even foresee and mitigate potential delays. Drones are no longer just cool photography gadgets. In logistics, they’re revolutionizing deliveries, especially in hard-to-reach areas.

Perfecting Omnichannel Commerce via Delivery Networks

Real-time inventory visibility and optimized last mile fulfillment are together reshaping the omnichannel experience. Here’s a closer look at how delivery networks are becoming pivotal in this transformation:

Inventory Management and Real-Time Fulfillment

Delivery networks are transforming retail by syncing inventory and accelerating order fulfillment. Gone are the days of linear supply chains; now, digital supply networks (DSNs) reign, dynamically aligning production with real-time demand, thanks to cloud computing, AI and the Internet of Things (IoT). This change is crucial in a market environment where speed is king. With over 90% of US online shoppers expecting two- to three-day shipping, about 75% of retailers are revamping their delivery capabilities, aiming for one-day turnarounds.

Elevating the Customer Experience

The omnichannel retail world thrives on delivery networks that guarantee a consistent and superior customer experience. As the bar for speed and convenience gets higher, even a slight delay in delivery might push nearly half the shoppers to consider other options. The crux of meeting these heightened expectations lies in efficient fulfillment operations, picking and packing orders within two to four hours. Consumers are now accustomed to rapid, almost immediate delivery, putting traditional supply chains to the test, particularly regarding same-day service. This puts pressure on wholesale distributors to meet the demands of their customers’ customers. The significance of a robust omnichannel strategy is undeniable, underscored by the fact that 90% of retail leaders view it as critical for success. Growing investments in omnichannel experiences reflect this, skyrocketing from just 20% to over 80% since 2012. Yet, these improvements aren’t without financial implications, accounting for 10 to 20% of omnichannel retail sales and challenging retailers to find a balance between accelerating delivery speeds and sustaining profitability.

Unified Commerce: Bridging Digital and Physical Retail Through Efficient Delivery

Unified commerce is reshaping retail, blending online and offline shopping into one seamless experience. At its heart, robust delivery networks and data analytics work together to make every shopping experience smooth and personalized.

The Role of Delivery Networks in Unified Commerce

Comprehensive delivery networks are pivotal in unified commerce, acting as the connective tissue between digital browsing and physical retail. As a retailer, envision your products not just sitting on shelves, but poised to travel to customers through a seamless buying experience at a moment’s notice. That’s the power of delivery networks: They extend your store’s presence far beyond its physical location — directly into the hands of customers, wherever they may be. It’s more than just shipping; it’s about creating a unified, consistent shopping experience. Every timely delivery is a testament to your brand’s commitment to customer satisfaction, blending the convenience of online shopping with the tangibility of physical products.

Data Analytics in Delivery Optimization

In parallel, data-driven insights are revolutionizing retail delivery strategies, impacting both online and physical stores. Retailers are tapping into analytics to refine inventory management and align supply with demand. At the same time, this analytical approach extends beyond stock levels to influence dynamic pricing strategies that affect sales volumes and margins. But, the last mile is getting a makeover, with 70% of business leaders confident in creating seamless cross-channel experiences, partly thanks to automated micro-fulfillment centers. Reflecting this data-centric trend, 49% of brands are enhancing delivery transparency, 43% are adjusting shipping strategies to counter global delays and 41% are investing in customer-friendly pickup options.

Sustainable and Smart Delivery Solutions

Finally, the growing importance of sustainability and efficiency in delivery networks is becoming a central focus as companies worldwide invest in innovative solutions to reduce their environmental impact while optimizing operational performance.

Embracing Green Delivery Practices

Introducing electric vehicles (EVs) in delivery networks marks a bold stride toward green delivery practices. With zero tailpipe emissions, EVs are environmentally friendly and cost-effective, boasting lower operating costs than traditional vehicles. This green shift, essential for meeting global carbon neutrality goals, is particularly effective in delivery networks’ last mile, thanks to the agility and reduced carbon footprint of EVs.

Major logistics companies are actively embracing sustainability, too:

Revolutionizing Logistics with API-Centric Technologies

API-driven tech is reshaping logistics and making it easier to weave existing systems into a unified, streamlined operation. Envision a world where every shipment, regardless of mode, glides through a network refined by IoT’s touch. Traffic jams in cities become a relic, fleets move with precision, and every item in your inventory is tracked in real-time. With over 17 billion IoT devices expected in 2024 and a projection of more than 29 billion by 2030, the impact of these smart solutions will usher in a new era of technologically advanced, eco-friendly delivery networks.

At the heart of this transformation are API-first platforms, true game-changers that sidestep the usual hold-ups with their adaptable, flexible nature. Whether standing alone or melding with your current TMS, they redefine what’s possible in logistics, making operations not just quicker, but smarter.

Carrier Diversity: The Backbone of Agile Retail

Embracing carrier diversity unlocks a more resilient retail ecosystem. Instead of putting all your eggs in one basket and relying on a single carrier, leveraging a diverse mix of couriers through an aggregated network helps master the art of juggling relationships, invoices, and deliveries with finesse. It’s not just about avoiding delays or scaling during peak seasons, either; it’s about guaranteeing every package reaches its destination as promised. With an overwhelming 96% of customers rating delivery as crucial to their satisfaction, and 73% of retailers feeling the pinch during demand spikes, the need for a diversified delivery strategy has never been clearer. Especially with 65% of leaders gearing up for same-day or next-day delivery ambitions, the commitment to carrier diversity emerges as the key piece  to building a supply chain robust enough to weather any storm, meet and exceed customer expectations, and pave the way for a future where dependability and sustainability go hand in hand.

Delivery Networks: The Keystone of Modern Commerce

Looking at the big picture of retail and logistics in 2024, it’s clear that robust delivery networks are not just a part of the narrative; they are the story. They’ve transformed multimodal distribution into a seamless operation, intertwining various transport modes to ensure every product travels through the supply chain efficiently and reliably. For omnichannel and unified commerce, this means an unbreakable link between online and physical shopping and a flawless customer experience.

OneRail’s delivery network, services and solutions are at the forefront of this evolution. Our courier network of 12 million drivers, intuitive OmniPoint™ Platform, proactive Exceptions Assist™ and elastic capacity offer real, tangible solutions for today’s logistics challenges. These services aren’t just about moving products; they’re about optimizing the delivery process to enhance customer satisfaction and business efficiency.

However, there’s only one way to truly understand the impact of OneRail’s delivery network on your business: scheduling a demo today. Experience how our services can streamline your logistics, elevate customer satisfaction and keep you ahead in the dynamic world of retail and commerce.


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