Logistics 2.0: the Commitment to Competitiveness


Eight percent of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP), a turnover approaching 100 billion euros, and over a million jobs. That is what the logistics segment generated throughout 2018 in Spain. This auspicious present was reflected in the International Logistics Exhibition (SIL, its Spanish acronym), held last June in Barcelona. In this event, which brought together over 700 companies, the latest trends were presented, such as a robot capable of lifting pallets of up to one thousand kilograms. “Logistics is key to competitiveness in companies. We need to reassert the relevant role it plays in today’s economy, which will be even more important in the coming years,” said Pere Navarro, President of SIL, to ABC newspaper.

What happened in Spain is not an isolated event. In Europe, people claim that, thanks to technological developments, logistics is at an “inflection point”, which gives way to what experts call “logistics 2.0″.  Along those lines, a recent study carried out by Aberdeen Standard Investments and Transport Intelligence points out that even though only 10% of European companies are investing in robotics and automation, 56% are planning to do so in the near future.

America is no exception to this phenomenon. Companies are investing a great part of their profit in large warehouses (many of them smart) and eLockers, as well as in the digitalization of each of their productive processes. 

Step by Step

Walmart, one of the main retailers in the world, has just inaugurated El Peñón distribution center, in the Chilean commune of San Bernardo, which became the company’s greatest investment outside the United States (almost US$200 million). The idea is to use this building, which has a surface of 150 thousand square meters, to store a greater number of products to deliver them in a more effective way and offer a more personalized service to customers (both physically and digitally). In turn, Mercado Libre has built a distribution center of 65 thousand square meters in Buenos Aires, applying the fulfillment scheme that has successfully been tested in Mexico and Brazil. Over 300 thousand packages, sent by users who sell them through their platform, are classified, stored and dispatched there daily. The aim? Delivering the products to buyers in less than 48 hours. In this way, Marcos Galperín’s company intends to become a serious competitor for Amazon, which is gaining strength in the region. 

As regards Argentina, the Argentine Chamber of E-Commerce (CACE, its Spanish acronym) pointed out that, in 2018, over 120 million products were sold (25% more than in 2017), with a turnover that was close to 230 million pesos. Despite the economic crisis, e-commerce is on the rise, and the multiplication of eLockers proves it. They became popular in 2011 thanks to Amazon and they allow users to reduce logistics costs by up to 30%. One of the forerunners in the country was Boweway, with their public network Packasap. “Eight out of ten Argentines use the Internet several times a day. This context is quite favorable for the development of e-commerce, but it is necessary to adjust logistics, which is our main challenge,” said its CEO, Juan Gruss, to El Cronista. Of course, Packasap is not the only option: Pickit, Pudo and Linio are other examples of this trend, and even clothing chains such as Dexter and telephone companies such as Movistar have undertaken similar projects, with their product pick-up systems. The purpose is always the same: a self-service pick-up system, with no intermediaries, which allows customers to pick up products wherever and whenever they find it convenient, avoiding long lines and tedious waiting.

Also with shoppers as a priority, logistics processes are being digitized, with hyper-connectivity as an ally. The globalization and internalization of companies have made the use of cloud computing apps, Big Data, warehouse management software and remote product monitoring imperative. A case that explains these two trends is the Shelf Stock Control used by Pusher-POP Smart, a retail innovation tool that makes shelfs smart to increase sales and offer better shopping experiences. Through Stock Beacon devices, the movements of all the products in the shelf are controlled in real time. Shoppers take a product, the system counts the stock and notifies the store if a product is missing. Information can be checked from any device, which includes shelf traffic, frequency of visits, analysis of stock placement and removal, automatic notification to stockers, recording of suspicious events, alarms and instant offers.

“There are three variables that stand out in the logistics operations of any company: cost, quality and delivery time. But in the era of Big Data, we increasingly depend on algorithms and people properly trained to understand the results of those analyzes and make decisions accordingly,” said Jesús Martínez, Logistics, Supply Chain and Maritime Business Master’s Director at Catalan TecnoCampus technology park, to La Vanguardia newspaper. And he concluded: “Even today, many people hear the word “logistics” and think that it only refers to driving a truck or storing some boxes, when, in fact, a great part of the operation of businesses depends on it.”

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