For some time Quick Cargo’s Berlin office has, amongst other things, been focusing on e-commerce logistics and creating new warehouse capacity for this sector. Since last year QCS Berlin has been handling the e-commerce distribution for a large, British, mail-order fashion company; the company delivers Europe-wide. QCS Berlin is currently responsible for three destinations: Greece, Cyprus and Malta.
During the peak week, centered around Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the volume of shipments quadrupled. Branch manager Robert Weckwerth answers questions about the logistical challenges and opportunities below.
What solutions does Quick Cargo offer in the realm of e-commerce logistics at the moment?
Currently we offer warehousing, order picking, sorting and tracking scans, as well as shipment by air, rail and road. Individual customs clearance for export and import is also part of our portfolio.
What further solutions could you imagine?
Right now we are working on customs solutions for import and export mass shipments in the B to C area, which in future should allow us to secure more international business
What do Black Friday and Cyber Monday mean for logistics and for Quick Cargo
For the KEP industry these days mean a huge increase in the number of packages that need to be sorted and delivered. The fourth quarter is the industry’s peak revenue period, with December the strongest month. But for online trade the two “e-commerce holidays“ in November are more or less the most important and revenue intensive days of the year. The burden on the logistics chain is correspondingly high: peak season is not just around Christmastime.
For Quick Cargo Berlin it is a big challenge to deal with such a large mass of shipments in such a short time, requiring longer working hours and a higher degree of personnel engagement. We have fixed deadlines that we have to meet and good advance planning is strictly necessary based on the possible volume. Disruptions to production or changes to production planning, strikes or longer waiting times can quickly cause a change in plans. Therefore we always have to be ready with a plan B and a plan C.
What were the biggest challenges for Quick Cargo in the peak week?
Amongst the biggest challenges were the personnel planning, the acquisition and stockpiling of packaging material, the management of freight capacity and the organisation of spontaneous transport solutions for ad hoc business.
What lessons were learned and what might one do differently next year?
Based on the experience of last year we were already able to optimise many of our processes, so that, for example, we tested the processes for peak days with high volume and chose the correspondingly appropriate carrier. The improvement of lead times and deployment planning are at the top of our agenda for the coming year, as well as the integration of customs processes in the shipment process, in order to also facilitate international e-commerce transportation; seamless communication between all involved in the process is continually put to the test. The spontaneous organisation of HGV transportation is already optimised through our own HGV department in Frankfurt. However, we plan to improve our advance planning for HGV transport still further in the coming year.
What tips can you give online merchants for their choices regarding logistics?
It is of primary importance that the online merchant takes care of his own forecast planning and makes a suitable choice regarding his forwarder and fulfilment centre. Constant contact between the online merchant and the logistics services provider should always be guaranteed, also outside of regular business hours. It is not the cheapest partner who represents the best choice, but the one with the appropriate know how, in order to ultimately meet the desired deadlines and quality demands. Seamless communication between all participants is the key to success. Appropriate packaging can help to minimise transport costs.
Often a lot of packaging refuse accumulates which can be counteracted by the right choice of packaging material and transport containers. Reusable packaging and eco-friendly packaging can help to avoid refuse, and they should be high on the agenda of every online merchant and forwarder. Sustainability is here another key to success and also helps to reduce costs. Every participant in the process should contribute to helping maintain resources.
What is important to help cooperation between the online merchant and the forwarder?
There are many factors here. The most important, from my point of view, is the maintenance of seamless communication. Furthermore, it is important that all those involved understand the processes precisely (also those of the counterpart) in order to be able to identify possible sources of disturbance.