Logistics, retail and the ostrich policy

Fausto Caprini
In brief
The serious, chronicle events that have affected companies in the logistics industry confirm that, even in retail, innovation must start from clear premises, in order to become a means of common progress without passing through incorrect management practices and suspicious or instrumental unawareness.

The recent, serious news events of Tavazzano (which from reading about seems to bring us back to the days of the Pinkerton agency and some movie lover will perhaps have thought of F.I.S.T.) and Biandrate (Italy) do not surprise me and, if anything, confirm what we have been saying for years.

In the ‘Corriere della Sera’ newspaper, Marco Imarisio talks about the “local supply chain of logistics, a kind of jungle where there is no legality and certainly no protection”. That maybe so, but I believe that limiting ourselves to the specific issues of the single sector without considering the global responsibility of the market does not serve to understand the present and, least of all, future events of the same nature. Does retail have responsibilities in all this? Yes. And I’m not just talking about those who sell, but also about those who buy.

The quality of the distribution network is essential for any operator. The health emergency has further expanded demand and consumption expectations and the integration between logistics and retail is moving rapidly and becomes a key element of the competition, to the point of changing the very nature of the competitors.

A telling example comes from the United States, where Amazon is fighting directly with all major carriers, from the postal service to Fedex (the same company involved in the clashes of Tavazzano) and UPS. The dispute is global and, among the means fuelling it, there is the insourcing of deliveries wanted by the big market players for the additional last-mile volumes.

Due to the need to have the goods available in strategic positions and facilities optimized for the couriers, the demand for spaces has risen dramatically. Investments are proportionate to the growing need, and costs are on the rise. The trade war is fought in a race to the bottom, lowering the tolerance thresholds and dividing employees between non-permanent workers and theoretical ‘independent contractors’, in the absence or breach of rules and guarantees for those who work in the warehouse and those who eat up miles, even dozens of times a day.

In addition, the overwhelming growth of e-commerce negatively emphasizes the role of those who buy, who often fall prey to the ostrich policy by demanding the service, for free or at discounted rate, as an accessory due by divine right while hiding themselves the price that this entails for the entire logistics chain. He is an ordinary consumer, perhaps, fascinated by sustainability, welcomed as an idea but disregarded in practice, ready to start buying as if there was no tomorrow, allured by the claim “low prices when and where you want it”. It is worth remembering that a thief is not just the one who steals but also the one who holds the ladder.

Innovation must start from clear premises, based on the concept of common progress without going through incorrect management practices encouraging greater disregard and obliviousness. The responsibility lies with everyone, and everyone must do his part.