E-commerce is diversifying and growing rapidly21.9.2021
E-commerce was already growing, when the COVID pandemic hit and accelerated the growth even more. This will generate a multitude of business opportunities in the Tampere City Region, especially as Tampere, Finland, intends to be the Capital of E-commerce.
It’s not an overstatement to say that the Tampere City Region is like “winning the logistics lottery”. The region is a traffic hub, a growth centre and a strong industrial cluster.
A couple of years ago, this hub was chosen by HydraSpecma, a company that offers comprehensive know-how in all hydraulics, pneumatics and lubrication systems, components and services. They located their new logistics centre in Pirkkala to ensure seamless traffic connections.
– HydraSpecma finds most of its customers in Finland, but merchandise will be delivered from Pirkkala globally. E-commerce requires efficiency in logistics, and its importance keeps on growing in the future, says CEO Tove Seppelin-Högnabba.
COVID pandemic changes consumer behaviour
The pandemic has accelerated e-commerce. Statista, a global provider of market and consumer data, reports that in 2020 the e-commerce growth was 19% – and will be even a bit more this year.
Posti, the leading postal and logistics service provider in Finland, confirms the trend with its survey. There has been a sharp increase in the online shopping activity of Finns, especially for food, groceries and takeout meals.
– Consumer behaviour has changed during COVID-19, and the trend will continue. Simultaneously, the major grocery chains have invested heavily in online shopping, says Elina Närvänen, Associate professor, services and retailing at Tampere University.
Online shopping diversifies
Logistics and deliveries are transforming: there are new operators and quicker delivery services, existing operators are expanding into new product categories. Delivery methods have diversified and there is a variety of choices for consumers to receive their items. As new options become available, the consumer expectations will also raise.
– Providing seamless multichannel customer experience will be the key to success, which means e-commerce competencies need to be developed, Närvänen says.
E-commerce will support brick-and-mortar businesses
Without web visibility a retail shop will not have much of a chance to be successful, at least not in the long term, thinks Närvänen. But if the shop is a positive and useful experience for the customer, it will maintain some of its role, for example as a source of inspiration and a place to try out new products.
Seamless customer experience refers to the smooth journey that the customer may make, for example starting from social media platforms to buying online or offline. Hence the need for increasing amounts of multichannel e-commerce expertise.
– As a university we are, of course, educating new experts. Together with four other universities in Finland we offer a programme in digital retail. It’s a convenient way to upgrade e-commerce skills, Närvänen says.
eSend redesigns logistics
In the US, studies show that consumers prefer quick, one-hour deliveries. eSend is a Tampere-based company that enables regional express deliveries with their logistics platform. Any business from A to Z can use the system to send goods to any recipient. It’ll be there within an hour if the distance is not too long.
– One-hour deliveries are possible in the urban areas. At the moment our system is in use in Tampere and in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area, says Pia-Christina Roth, eSend Head of Communications.
There are two things that make express deliveries possible. First, the fully automated eSend logistics platform. Second, local partners, that is: trustworthy taxi and transport service companies.
– We have heard the needs of both transport service providers and service users. Only those features that are really deemed useful will go into the development, says Roth.
The result is a platform that redesigns logistics, and a lot of bottlenecks opened up through automation and AI.
Next step: automated local warehouses
Online shops must have at least a warehouse locally if they are willing to provide express deliveries. Tero Majuri, the innovator behind the eSend ERP, envisions that this will be the next big thing in retail: automated local warehouses. They will be located near cities, making express deliveries possible.
eSend logistics platform fits the bill. As a customer orders a product, the order will proceed from the shop directly into the eSend system. It will be automatically conveyed to the nearest transport services provider, a taxi, for example, which is dispatched to pick up and deliver the product.
– When the system gains volume, it is possible to combine transport orders and offer express deliveries in a very cost-effective way, says Majuri.
Text: Päivi Stenroos
Photos: Mirella Mellonmaa