Black box parcel shipping: Understanding the options for seamless integration


E-commerce revenue in the U.S. exceeded $600 billion in 2019, up almost 15% year-over-year. More Americans are opening their laptops instead of heading to the mall, and legacy retailers are facing the pressure to adapt to the times. The coronavirus pandemic continues to amplify that pressure as 2020 drags on. 

While retail e-commerce sales still make up a relatively small fraction of total retail sales in the U.S., that number nearly tripled from just over 4% of total sales in the first quarter of 2010 to over 11% of total sales in the first quarter of 2019, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. 

With e-commerce expected to continue its ascent at breakneck speed over the next several years, traditional brick-and-mortar powerhouses are rushing to optimize their supply chains for a digital future in order to remain competitive. At the same time, new kids on the block are expected to open their businesses with online shoppers in mind from the very beginning.

Multi-carrier parcel management solutions that power omni-channel fulfillment are necessary to thrive in a digital landscape. These solutions integrate with enterprise business systems and give companies complete visibility into their inventory and the ability to ship from the optimal point of origin at all times. Companies are not constrained to specific locations, with access to inventory throughout their entire footprint. For example, when a retailer receives an e-commerce order, the retailer can check inventory across all store locations and warehouses, while also assessing what is already on order, through a simple, lightning-fast process. The retailer can then leverage the supply chain technology stack, including its multi-carrier parcel management solution, to choose the ideal formula for parcel delivery: point of origin, point of destination, delivery time frame, and least-cost carrier to execute the shipment. 

“If a retailer’s warehouse ran out of white sneakers, they could see if they have any circulating elsewhere in their network. By having complete visibility into your inventory, you can move that inventory to address demand,” Logistyx Technologies President Ken Fleming explained. “If white sneakers are selling in one area of the country and not another, why not move them from store to store instead of placing another order?”

Fleming went on to emphasize the importance of working within a black box environment that allows people to make real-time decisions based on multiple complex factors — including product availability, inventory location and shipping costs from all possible locations.

This black box integration provides businesses with split-second information analysis, empowering them to make the lowest cost and highest efficiency decisions every time. These solutions are quickly becoming a necessity for large enterprise companies. Still, these sophisticated solutions can feel out of reach for small and mid-sized companies just trying to keep up with their enterprise counterparts. 

For mid-sized companies hoping to take steps toward integrating black box solutions, Fleming stressed the importance of avoiding a “big bang” approach. Taking methodical steps over a longer period of time can have more favorable results, ensuring careful implementation and a smaller impact on budgets.

“I think with a black box or lights out environment, companies don’t want to be managing multiple technologies. They want it to be simple, with all the information in front of them in one location,” Fleming said. “That’s kind of the Holy Grail strategy, but you need a product and technology that will not only help you get there but also give you options on the way there.”

Logistyx meets companies where they are in terms of parcel-shipping execution and functionality. The company provides technological solutions for the networks companies have today, while helping them improve their processes and become more efficient tomorrow. This approach allows large companies to dive headfirst into black box solutions, while creating an environment for mid-sized companies to work toward that goal at a more accessible pace.