Commerce involves the movement of goods, across diverse geographical locations, while delivery refers to the process of moving these goods from one location (the source), to a destination that is clearly defined. Goods involved can be perishable or non-perishable, and transporting these goods from place to place comes with many challenges. Unpredictable traffic and the condition of roads plied, determine the ease of moving merchandise, from buyer to seller.
Whether it is regular commerce or ecommerce (happening primarily online), delivery is an important part of the process that ensures the consumer receives the product that solves their problem. There are quite a few delivery types. Physical goods, popularly known as cargo, are mostly delivered via road and rail networks. Other means for conveying goods are sea shipping lines and airlines.
Goods of specialised nature, require other means of delivery. Examples are liquid goods, like petroleum (crude oil) that are delivered via pipelines. Electrical power would require power grids, whereas electronic information would require computer [-based] networks, as the Internet or broadcast networks. These special cases are delivered via channels and means that are a core part of the infrastructure.
The whole process of delivering goods is called distribution. It is also called place, and is a key element of the four cardinal parts of the so-called marketing mix. The rest of the mix includes product, pricing, and promotion. Distribution ensures that a product or service is available, within the reach of the intended and intending consumer.
Distributors are individuals or companies whose core business is to make commercial goods available, from the point of production or storage, to the point of sale. A distributor can be the manufacturer or producer. Implicit or indirect channels via third-party distributors and intermediaries, is a common feature of many thriving businesses.
Speaking of logistics, it is the discipline that studies effective processes, for delivery and disposition of goods and personnel. It considers the detail in organisation and execution of complex operations. Business logistics involve tracking the flow of goods and services, between the point of origin and point of consumption, that meet consumer or business needs.
Our definition shows that intangible items like time, data, and information, are distributed as much as tangible items like food, dairy, meat, equipment, and liquids. In fact, logistics of physical items usually involves efficiently, integrating flow of information, handling of materials, production, packaging, inventory, transportation, warehousing, and almost always, security.
services ensure goods reach the consumer. The source might be from the production base, or the distribution centre. Real examples of delivery services include post, courier, and relocation services. They often deliver goods on commercial and a private arrangements.
Delivering Consumer Goods
How are consumer goods actually delivered? Most typically, start the route at farm or factory (point of production), with short-lived stopovers at least one point of storage, finally arriving at the retailer (point of sale). The consumer buys the good here, and bears responsibility for transporting it, to their preferred point of consumption.
This model is fairly common. It also permits endless variations, depending on the specific good type and mode of sale. Manufacturers can sell goods directly, using catalogues and/or the internet. These goods can then be delivered straight to the consumer’s address, from a warehouse.
These days, goods are commonly delivered to an automated delivery booth – DHL’s PackStation service provides booths for self-service collection of parcels, for instance. Dispatch can also happen at automated delivery booths, every single moment of the year. They are great for online purchases, where people are not easily available during the day, to receive deliveries or deposit parcels.
Warehousing is not always an obligatory necessity, and many small manufacturers deliver directly to retailers, who are able to take up all their merchandise. Many producers have factory outlets, serving warehousing and retailing purposes. The products are sold directly to consumers at wholesale prices and practice has been abused by many retail stores operators that falsely advertise as factory outlets.
Some industries requiring contractors (for instance, building), have a peculiar case where building, construction, landscaping services, and materials are delivered to the consumer, as part of the service. Highly perishable consumables or hazardous materials, are delivered directly, without the need for middlemen or processes.
For fast food and restaurant operators, home delivery is now synonymous with their services, just as supermarket goods can also be home-delivered. Even when perishable groceries are involved, temperature-controlled refrigerated delivery vehicles can be deployed. Such vehicles of varying shapes, brands, capacity, sizes, and modes of operations are available from Glacier Vehicles.
Fresh milk can be delivered with special battery-powered milk float. If this sounds like a big innovation, consider another delivery mechanism, being made popular by the internet – crowd delivery, while private courier companies also deliver consumer goods regularly, for ecommerce companies.
The changing climate of delivery vehicles?
The changing consumer dynamic, requires stores to makes inventory available to consumers directly. Mixed refrigerated vehicles are central to these operations. These Advanced Home Delivery vehicles are now built on resilient lightweight chassis, with superior insulation properties, as against previous traditional GRP sandwich panels.
Refrigerated vehicles are also increasingly used to deliver unique goods. Some even boost plastic bodies that can be recycled, when it’s deemed to have outlived its usefulness, unlike GRP, whose only fate was landfills. On land, semi-trailers come with trailers (box, flatbeds, car carriers, and tanks).
Concrete mixers and dump trucks are examples of vehicles for specialised delivery. Merchant ships (cargo ships, oil tankers, and fishing boats) and freight aircraft for sea and air respectively, are also employed on a very vast scale in commerce delivery.
How about dual-function passenger vehicles? They are also used for delivery of goods, in the same way cargo travels with passenger ships, aircraft, buses, vans, pick-ups, and even bicycles (for newspapers). In cases of extreme remoteness, primitive or inhospitable areas, small aircraft, dogsleds and yes, drones (UAVs) can be among methods employed.
Frequency of deliveries
Certain products are delivered to consumers periodically. Common examples include farm produce, dairy, human blood for hospitals. Home refrigeration and superior distribution methods now mean, these products can be distributed through a retail distribution system, as other food products. They can however, be distributed in cases of emergency, using methods like the refrigerated vehicles that maintain the integrity of the products involved.
Commerce is evolving and entrepreneurs must continue to review their key delivery processes, to keep their business edge and market share. Anything less will be disastrous.