X Marks the Spot: Geocoding is Here and the Supply Chain Must Get Onboard

Tags: E-commerce, Technology , Supply Chain

E-commerce’s introduction to the retail industry gave way for a complete shift in the way people shop for goods and services. Today with abundant shopping websites and mobile apps available to consumers, both the demand and expectation for how quickly and where we receive goods continues to expand the reach of e-commerce. Now more than ever, consumers are choosing to do their shopping online versus in store. Raising the bar even higher for e-commerce are services like same-day shipping and Amazon Prime, which allow consumers to receive products within expedited timeframes.

As consumers’ buying behaviors continue to change, the effects have rippled into the supply chain, and so, businesses are continuously looking for next-gen technologies to efficiently keep up with the demand and processes.

Geocoding Enters the Supply Chain

One of these next-gen technologies is geocoding – innovative addressing solutions like what3words and Locpin that convert complex GPS coordinates and pinpoint exact locations for users. For example, what3words uniquely divides the world map into a 3m x 3m square grid and assigns each box a three-word address. The simplicity of the technology allows people to discuss location in new terms and brings specificity to the conversation, so everyone knows exactly where everything is on the grid.

These new geocoding technologies are garnering more attention each day and will transform the way businesses and consumers think about traditional addresses. The supply chain will undoubtedly feel the impact.

The Supply Chain’s “New” Last Mile

Among supply chain and logistics professionals, the last mile of delivery has been the focus of much attention and investment, with the level of importance increasing as customers expect faster deliveries and greater visibility. Virtually every supply chain management solution currently relies on traditional addresses to operate. Geocode technologies are helping to settle several restrictions intrinsic to traditional street addressing, but also opening new opportunities and applications for more precise, practical pick-up and drop-off points.

With geocoding technology, brands are able to capture granular location information – anytime, anywhere – which only increases accuracy, efficiency and bolsters the overall customer experience. For instance, Domino’s already started integrating a more geocode-driven approach by delivering its pizzas to customers at parks and beaches. The famed pizza brand’s efforts are only the beginning of a much larger transition in the works.

What Does This Mean for Supply Chain Logistics?

This new wave of innovative technology will have a tremendous impact on IT teams and software companies, because all technologies will need to be updated to ensure orders flow smoothly throughout the supply chain. However, before companies can reap all the benefits of geolocation-based tools, they and logistics providers must examine current software models and adapt their technologies.

To start, control towers allow shippers and carriers to monitor supply chains with real-time information and a complete view of their goods. It is a vital piece and must work seamlessly to improve the process of automation and collaboration. A vital step would be to add latitude and longitude fields to control tower technology to provide flexibility and allow for the ability to track events as geo-coordinates rather than traditional addresses.

Additionally, platforms such as MobileSTAR already offer flexibility to manage the entire delivery experience with visibility, real-time track and trace, proof of delivery, and last-mile routing. Pairing such a tool with a geocoding addressing solution only enhances the delivery process and allows for efficient service anywhere in the world.

Logistics leaders ought to strive for greater visibility too, and these innovations provide just that – for both the business and its customers. A recent report, “Competing on Customer Experience: The Driving Force Behind Supply Chain Innovation,” shows supply chain visibility ranks as a top investment priority – not surprising considering it spans all supply chain function. And visibility is ranked alongside mobility/mobile apps as a leading technology that will influence innovation and performance most over the next five years.

Enterprises are wise to prepare for this shift in order to remain competitive within the market. Geocoding and mobile solutions are two examples of innovative technology with the potential to shape the future of supply chain logistics for the better, by improving efficiency and the customer experience.