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UKWA conference highlights 'race to bottom' e-commerce fulfilment

UKWA conference highlights 'race to bottom' e-commerce fulfilment

The retail sector - and the logistics companies that serve it - risks becoming involved “in a race to the bottom” as it struggles to satisfy the demands of online consumers for low priced goods as well as cost-free and virtually immediate order fulfillment.

That was the stark warning that emerged from a panel discussion that took place at the UK Warehousing Association’s (UKWA) recent annual conference during which representatives from retail giants John Lewis, Urban Outfitters, Dixons Carphone and Pentland Group considered the threats and challenges their organisations face in the digital age.

One member of the discussion panel stated that, quite simply, the rise of e-Commerce has put many retail companies on “the road to less and less profit.”

Peter Ward, CEO of UKWA (pictured), commented: “From the comments made, there seems to be a realisation that, for many retailers, the current online order fulfillment model is not sustainable and some recalibration of consumer expectations is essential.”

He went on: “But, of course, the ‘Digital Genie’ is out of the bottle and the retail sector’s ongoing need to service today’s technology-enabled consumer means that the logistics industry is under greater pressure than ever before to develop new working practices and adopt technology-led solutions that allow it to keep pace in the digital age.

“And, while our industry has always been robust, resilient and shown a ready willingness to embrace change, the fact is that any company choosing to ignore or failing to engage with the new world of logistics faces a very real risk of being left behind forever.”

Over 120 delegates attended UKWA’s Annual Conference. The event took place over two days in March at Chester and a diverse speaker programme delivered presentations on topics ranging from Brexit to Cyber Security.

Peter Ward added: “Given the buzz around the conference hall and the interaction between speakers, delegates and sponsors both during the formal sessions and throughout the times set aside for networking, it was clear that the conference agenda had successfully identified many of the challenges and issues our industry is facing. “

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