GeoSpock CEO Richard Baker unpacks what’s driving the growth of online shopping and what it means for the express delivery market.
By Richard Baker
Singapore’s e-commerce market is growing fast. It is expected to grow to a market volume of SGD 8.64 billion by 2023. This growth is attributed to the pervasive, ultra‐high speed, and reliable technology infrastructure, tech-and mobile-savvy population, and the government’s dedication in embracing the digital economy and be on track to becoming a Smart Nation.
Propelling this forward is Singapore’s thriving maritime industry. Leveraging innovation, the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) has successfully set new standards of excellence when they announced the Tuas Next-Generation Port project earlier this year, which is set to be the largest container point in a single location that can cater up to 65m TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent unit). To put this into context, it’s enough to fit the land space of two Ang Mo Kio towns – at least.
As Singapore’s maritime sector undergoes digitalisation, how would this affect the speed and efficiency of delivery services to meet the high demands of Singapore’s fast-paced e-commerce market? Is the industry moving in the right direction with its “bigger is better” approach?
Dynamic route planning optimises shipping operations, and ultimately, delivers on the promise of faster delivery services. Route optimisation has the potential to make transportation by sea more efficient using techniques where ships shorten their routes and take other vessels’ movements into account through shared information.
A study looking at the Baltic Sea and the North Sea found it was “plausible” that routes could be shortened by 1 per cent on average, if dynamic route planning is applied across the industry. This would reduce costs to society by over SGD 121 million a year – of which 35 per cent would be reduced fuel costs and 65 per cent reduced emission costs.
The digital revolution could now hold the key to the next generation of shipping. On the horizon is an industry that is not only more efficient and cost-effective but also environmentally friendly, and Singapore has gone full speed ahead: more than half of new Singapore-registered ships are built to a higher energy efficiency design index than mandated by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), which will cap sulphur content to 0.5% for shipping fuel next year. This is an important milestone considering how Singapore is strategically located at the heart of Asia, cementing its position as a global trading hub.
The maritime industry has been described as the lifeblood of local and international trade – transporting more than 80 per cent of all goods traded. The industry currently generates huge quantities of data from every aspect of the supply chain. This data remains siloed, leaving operators hungry for insight and visibility. By leveraging geospatial technology, the industry is able to ingest and provide context to huge quantities of global maritime data to capture data on measurable aspects of the shipping industry such as location, weather, emissions, fuel usage and journey route and times.
Geospatial technology provides the economy with bigger opportunities, smarter ports and more efficient shipping routes. In the last decade, Chinese e-commerce giant Taobao has seen phenomenal growth thanks to consumers residing in Singapore and Malaysia. From China, delivery and shipping takes approximately 15 to 25 days by sea – sometimes faster, sometimes longer. With such long-distance deliveries and millions of transactions happening every single day, it’s important to invest in a big data platform that provides the industry with a 360-degree operational view.
Delivering more with less
How does everything tie in with business optimisation in the delivery market? Success depends on businesses continually improving their service while at the same time finding cost savings and efficiencies. Customers want to receive deliveries more quickly, and integrating data using geospatial technology can help delivery businesses achieve both service improvements and efficiencies in a variety of ways.
Geospatial data can help by tracking movement, speed and route. Think of it in the context of Google Maps, where the app tells users the fastest and most efficient route out of all possible routes available. Additional data sets, such as retail customer information, can be combined with spatial data sets to analyse, for example, successful delivery attempts versus unsuccessful delivery attempts and identify patterns that can improve service levels moving forward.
Geospatial technology is the key to unlocking industry potential – be it for the maritime industry or delivery market. To fully harness its true power, businesses must understand why bigger doesn’t necessarily mean better, as operational efficiency can be achieved simply by leveraging geospatial technology. Spatial data should be seen as the fuel to navigate the demanding waters of delivery services – the last and most important mile in any e-commerce journey.
(Ed. GeoSpock CEO Richard Baker was formerly the joint founder and CEO of Cleartrade Exchange; an electronic execution exchange for cash-settled, cleared derivatives and futures contracts. CLTX is regulated by the Monetary Authority of Singapore. Baker says he has held several senior executive positions in technology, media and telecommunications as well as serving as a non-executive board member in the IT Solutions sector prior to joining GeoSpock in 2017.)