E-logistics of agribusiness organisations

Ilias Vlachos

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    Logistics is one of the most important agribusiness functions due to the idiosyncrasy of food products and the structure of food supply chain. Companies in the food sector typically operate with poor production forecasting, inefficient inventory management, lack of coordination with supply partners. Further, markets are characterised by stern competition, increasing consumer demands and stringent regulation for food quality and safety. Large agribusiness corporations have already turned to e-logistics solutions as a means to sustain competitive advantage and meet consumer demands. There are four types of e-logistics applications: (a) Vertical alliances where supply partners forge long-term strategic alliances based on electronic sharing of critical logistics information such as sales forecasts and inventory volume. Vertical alliances often apply supply chain management (SCM) which is concerned with the relationship between a company and its suppliers and customers. The prime characteristic of SCM is interorganizational coordination: agribusiness companies working jointly with their customers and suppliers to integrate activities along the supply chain to effectively supply food products to customers. E-logistics solutions engender the systematic integration among supply partners by allowing more efficient and automatic information flow. (b) e-tailing, in which retailers give consumers the ability to order food such as groceries from home electronically i.e. using the Internet and the subsequent delivery of those ordered goods at home. (c) Efficient Foodservice Response (EFR), which is a strategy designed to enable foodservice industry to achieve profitable growth by looking at ways to save money for each level of the supply chain by eliminating inefficient practices. EFR provides solutions to common logistics problems, such as transactional inefficiency, inefficient plant scheduling, out-of-stocks, and expedited transportation. (d) Contracting, a means of coordinating procurement of food, beverages and their associated supplies. Many markets and supply chains in agriculture are buyer-driven where the buyers in the market tend to set prices and terms of trade. Those terms can include the use of electronic means of communication to support automatic replenishment of goods, management of supply and inventory. The results of the current applications of e-logistics in food sector are encouraging for Greek agribusiness. Companies need to become aware of and evaluate the value-added by those applications which are a sustainable competitive advantage, optimisation of supply chain flows, and meeting consumer demands and food safety regulations. E-business diffusion has shown that typically first-movers gain a significant competitive advantage and the rest companies either eventually adopt the new systems or see a significant decline in their trading partners and perish. E-logistics solutions typically require huge investments in hardware and software and skilled personnel, which is an overt barrier for most Greek companies. Large companies typically are first-movers but small and medium enterprises (SMEs) need institutional support in order to become aware that e-logistics systems can be fruitful for them as well.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusPublished - 2002
    Event15th National Conference of Greek Society on Operational Research - Tripolis, Greece
    Duration: 1 Jan 2002 → …


    Conference15th National Conference of Greek Society on Operational Research
    Period1/01/02 → …


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