The 1990s brought us up front and personal with Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), which has since transformed the way in which businesses conduct operations as well as how supply chain evolved to a competitive advantage. This ultimately led to the boom in e-businesses and e-commerce. The advent of advanced digital technologies has since drive growth and progress in the industry with B2B and B2C businesses utilizing the likes of internet technologies and e-commerce business models, thus brought on the onset of e-logistics with distribution channels, and integrated systems.

Material Requirement Planning (MRP) brought on the need for Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), and more recently to place more prominent on the need for B2B connectivity, extended ERP (or ERPII) was introduced and with further access to the internet, electronic marketplace (Ems) came into being gaining popularity. Whilst EMs are most commonly web-interface based, they are driven by automated transactions, or collaborations between business partnerships. With logistics, these electronic marketplaces are often referred to as electronic logistics marketplaces (EMS).

Electronic Logistics Marketplaces facilitate e-logistics in a number of means and types. These include Open Marketplaces, Private Marketplaces, Shared Marketplaces, and Collaborative Marketplaces.

  • Open Marketplaces : Early on, open ELMs’ focus was attempting to bridge the gap between supply and demand for transport. However, with no barriers to entry, there were online freight exchanges that were established for spot trading of transport services, and were open system and often price driven. There were concerns about that being judged for its rates and not on service offerings which shifted to the need for closed marketplaces.
  • Private Marketplaces : This is a form of closed ELM, which strive to connect one shipper with a range of carriers but works on its own without collaborating with other ELMs. This form of e-logistics requires information system flows.
  • Shared Marketplaces : Whilst similar to private marketplaces, they are able to collaborate with information flows between other ELMs. This occurs when a single integrated system is shared by many businesses seeking e-logistics services.
  • Collaborative Marketplaces :Unlike shared marketplaces, this features a group of systems collaborating other to offer common interest in the systems at hand. This e-logistics solution factors the various carriers, shippers, and customers within the marketplace community and not to mention the different forms of supply chains involved in the hope of sharing capacities and avoid empty running of fleets. There is the prospect of vertical integration, which happens between shippers and carriers, whilst horizontal collaboration occurs between shippers and between carriers.

The following image provides a general overview of an ELM processes for e-logistics, whereby the main variation is the functionality that differs based on each type of ELM.

Image: Sharon Cullinane, dachser