Step into the realm of logistics evolution as we delve into the dynamic landscape of key trends that are molding its future. Discover in this blog how these transformative forces are reshaping the logistics and 3PL industry.
In the current digital world, the way the logistics industry works has changed dynamically. Changes in customer expectations, ease of production of goods, and exploding online businesses have further accelerated the change.
A few trends have shaped the future of logistics and enabled them to be in their current form. Some of the key ones are the following:
- Complexity of automation
- Demand to provide current data
- Integrate based on API
- Agile supply chain
- Demand for Less than Truckload
Let’s look at these key trends individually.
Complexity of Automation
Businesses nowadays use automation extensively to decrease costs and increase the efficiency of each task performed. When some of the regular, mundane, and repetitive tasks are automated, employees can perform the more complex work, thus increasing productivity. As a logistics company, you can take advantage of mechanization by automating the backend process.
Since companies are integrating multiple digital platforms into their systems, the amount of data generated through these is considerable. While data can be extremely useful, it must be analyzed and interpreted correctly. Collecting, analyzing, and implementing the results can be a formidable task if the data is spread across multiple platforms.
A good idea is to implement a form of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software to collect the data from multiple locations and store it in a centralized location. They analyze and present the data in a user-friendly and easily understandable pattern. This data is real-time, so no extra work is involved to keep them up to date.
Demand to Provide Current Data
eCommerce giant Amazon has created a paradigm shift in customer expectations and behavior. One of the most significant impacts is that customers now expect higher visibility and access to real-time data concerning order placement. Amazon is also known to deliver products in certain sectors at an unfathomable speed.
To meet this customer expectation, you can integrate a Warehouse Management System (WMS) with platforms that provide supply chain visibility. Doing that will ensure your customers can track and monitor in real-time. If you keep your customers informed, they can plan to receive the delivery, and the overall process will be seamless.
These ERP or WMS platforms monitor the data from the shipment location. So they can keep the customer updated during the different stages of product delivery, such as sorting, packing, and shipping. Customers also tend to do repeat business with companies that provide them with real-time data on their orders and keep them continuously updated.
Integrate Based on API
Solutions based on integrating Application Programming Interface (API) are becoming more popular. Since API-based integrations process data in real-time instead of the usual bulk processing method, logistics companies nowadays want to focus on implementing API-based solutions. Consequently, logistics companies can now receive instantaneous updates and notifications.
All the logistics company has to do is share this data with the customers and other stakeholders. Sharing data about updates and different status changes keeps the customers informed, which nowadays has become crucial for the success of a logistics company.
Moreover, API-based solutions integration is compatible with the integrations of Electronic Data Interchange (EDI), which normally processes data in batches. Note that API cannot replace EDI as both have a niche customer base. Some industries do not require regular updates, and for them, implementing API might not be cost-effective as they require customizations on a case-to-case basis. Companies that integrate API ensure they do so to get the maximum benefit.
Agile Supply Chain
As technology advances at a breakneck speed regularly, the time taken to conduct a business is reduced considerably. To compete in the current digital environment, the supply chains of the companies have to be flexible and fast. To remain agile in this current day and time, logistics companies have to switch more and more towards services they can manage themselves. That gives them direct access, and they don’t have to rely on third parties to gather insights. This time saved has great value, especially during emergencies. Managing services yourselves will ensure that you spend less time onboarding new clients as you already have the wherewithal and knowledge that a new client might require. You can save time and cost! Using a third-party service to onboard a client might mean it takes days to finally onboard the client, impacting customer satisfaction detrimentally.
The same logic applies to managing changes and exceptions. A company that manages them internally can make the changes and mark the exceptions faster than those that use a third-party service. In many cases of change and exceptions, time might be of the essence. You can handle any process updates instantaneously instead of waiting for an outsider to note the changes and exceptions. It will take longer and be costlier to implement them.
Demand for Less Than Truckload
As the demand for eCommerce products increases, there is an increasing requirement to send the products in smaller shipments to meet the timeline the customers expect. Companies do not want to waste time waiting for the entire cargo carrier to fill up. The solution is to implement the Less than Truckload (LTL) method. In this method, multiple companies ship their small shipments in one common carrier. The carrier then becomes full and has to make multiple stops for delivery.
There are many benefits of using LTL, including the following:
- Pocket friendly
- eCommerce utilization
- Aligned to small businesses
- Conscious of the environment
Let’s look at these benefits individually.
As the customers are charged for the small space required in the carrier, it saves them money. Furthermore, logistics companies can fill the vehicle with other products that are pocket-friendly to them as well.
Since eCommerce values speed, the high efficiency of the LTL method ensures that the customer does not have to wait for the entire carrier to fill up before they can get their product. Customers can place an order whenever required, and logistics companies can fulfill these orders immediately.
Aligned to Small Businesses
Small businesses will definitely have lower sales rates than their industrial counterparts. They cannot fill up a carrier fully every time, so LTL is a very effective method to ensure they don’t have to arrange for the capital required for the entire carrier. Small businesses can pay for only the required space, and logistics companies can always take on more such businesses to fill up the rest of the carrier.
Conscious of Environment
The LTL method is environmentally friendly as the carriers are shipped full, which means fewer shipments are required, thus reducing the overall carbon footprint.
With several trends, such as artificial intelligence and cloud computing, slowly gaining popularity in the business world, the way a logistics company does business will change exponentially over the next few years. It is more important now for logistics companies to monitor the market trends and keep themselves up to date with recent technologies if they want to compete with their peers and stay ahead.
XPDEL helps eCommerce brands accelerate their growth, empowering them with multichannel fulfillment, whether shipping directly to consumers, delivering to businesses, or selling through retail stores. We are founded and operated by veterans with experience from Amazon, FedEx, UPS, JDA, Walmart, Target, and other leading companies in eCommerce and Retail. Guided by these experts, we provide customer experiences that help you grow your business.