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Over the past 20 months, the Covid-19 pandemic has forced us to change how we work and live in unprecedented ways. These seismic changes led to, among other things, an ecommerce boom driven by rapidly changing consumer buying trends. Meeting this demand as well as continuing our pursuit of sustainability and the opportunities presented by data science will be the key to success in 2022.
The steep climb in ecommerce was predictable, even if the pace was somewhat accelerated. People stayed home and shopped from their kitchen or living room, thereby creating a ‘homebody economy’. Also predictable was the commensurate rise in returns of goods purchased online. Our extensive experience in returns management means we are well-placed to manage this additional activity. We implemented innovative processes, and in some cases, dedicated facilities to maximise efficient return routes that improved stock availability for consumers and reduced working capital for customers.
For example, we work with a high-profile U.K. ecommerce retailer, processing all their returns. Our services include mending, dry cleaning and repairing returned purchases, which reduces goods sent to a landfill by over 80 percent and helps our customer achieve its sustainability goals.
GXO’s own Returns and Recycling network annually recycles nearly 540,000 tonnes of waste packaging, including, plastics, wood, metal, food waste, bio waste and electrical returns. Our bespoke asset management system helps our customers reduce equipment loss and improve revenues, provide management and financial information, manage equipment availability and optimise customer stock holdings. Efficient asset management helps our customers maintain and upgrade their assets at a minimal cost, which in turn helps them meet their sustainability goals.
Data science and the data lake
Data in business has been fueled in the past five years thanks to digitalisation, process automation and the rapid adoption of industrial Internet of Things (IoT). Until recently, these large amounts of data were stored mostly in discrete silos to keep it at least somewhat manageable. Now, thanks to increasingly powerful tools for data processing and data analysis, companies can store information — on their own businesses, customers, competitors, markets, economies and so forth — in data lakes.
Information culled from these data lakes and analysed in specific, customised ways helps companies make highly informed decisions on nearly every aspect of their operations — e.g., design, financial planning and forecasting, manufacturing, marketing, inventory, and distribution.
Through the intelligent use of their data lakes, companies can now see ahead and even around the corner, predicting not just the products their customers will want, but also the most efficient ways to manufacture, store, market, ship and service those products.
"I remain confident that sustainability, data lakes and valuing our people are going to be key areas of focus for GXO, customers and the wider industry as we move into 2022."
Smart companies put their people first. Employers who create an employee-focused culture are better able to weather the labour challenges we all face.
In 2022, a competitive wage will be just the opening ante. To attract and retain an appropriately skilled workforce, companies will need to think beyond wages. They’ll need to become an excellent place to work to attract talent from outside the industry — a place with competitive wages where safety is the priority, flexibility embraced, and where diversity and inclusion are lived every day.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have all learned that it’s not particularly easy to make predictions in such uncertain times, but I remain confident that sustainability, data lakes and valuing our people are going to be key areas of focus for GXO, customers and the wider industry as we move into 2022.