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All on the e-commerce express

The rate at which e-commerce has taken off is nothing short of phenomenal, and ongoing developments at major air freight hubs, like East Midlands Airport (EMA) in the UK, are testament to the growth in this sector. 
Contributing to the increase in the volume of cargo being shipped through EMA is the doubling in size of DHL’s logistics facility at the airport – a €184 million investment – and the increase in demand for e-commerce and next-day-deliveries. Work has also started on a new UPS £114 million facility which is due to open later this year.
As one industry report illustrates, the evolving e-commerce trend has put pressure on sales channels for faster delivery and optimum supply chain. This scenario brings opportunities for the third-party logistics and warehousing services to integrate with the air e-commerce channel. 
Owing to the continued growth in online shopping, many third-party logistics are offering more multi-modal services, which includes an air cargo service as a critical mode of transportation. Furthermore, the growth in the global cross-border e-commerce is anticipated to boost the demand for the air cargo industry.
IATA’s e-commerce white paper raises a significant point, saying that the significant growth of e-commerce has already had a profound effect on retailers and manufacturers’ logistics needs, as they seek to reach their customers as quickly and cost-effectively as possible, whilst providing supply chain transparency. 
On top of the speedy and free delivery, facilitating quick, easy and often free returns, has become an important criterion for online consumers, and a major cost for retailers to handle unwanted, used or damaged goods each year.
Shipping items can become very expensive, and managing supply chains, logistics and reverse logistics involved in e-commerce is often difficult. E-commerce is a challenge for logistics providers who need to understand the newly emerging trends and patterns, better anticipate expectations and volumes, and adapt their network coverage, products and service level agreements accordingly. 
As things stand, air freight is being impacted by the rise of e-commerce from both B2B and B2C perspectives. 

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