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3 Logistics Trends to Watch

January 22, 2020 Published by

Logistics is always evolving and adapting, and staying ahead in this fiercely competitive industry means staying on top of trends.

Last year, the focus was on the delivery race. When consumers purchased products online, they expected delivery to be fast, and oftentimes free. This made retailers prioritize delivery and fulfillment, and add more offerings to the shopping experience, like buy online, pickup in store (BOPIS).

With the accelerated supply chain the new norm, what’s next for the logistics industry? Here are three trends likely to emerge in 2020:

Autonomous Vehicles

Transmetrics, suppliers of AI predictive optimization solutions for the cargo transport industry, predicts autonomous vehicles, such as trucks and drones, will be a highly discussed logistics trend in the coming years.

This year, for example, Alphabet offshoot Wing Aviation received approval from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration to begin drone delivery of small consumer items in two rural Virginia communities. Unlike Amazon’s Prime Air, Wing intends to sell items from local merchants, at least for now.

In October, UPS Flight Forward received the FAA’s first-ever standard certification to operate a drone airline. “This is history in the making, and we aren’t done yet,” UPS chief executive officer David Abney said. “Our technology is opening doors for UPS and solving problems in unique ways for our customers.”

Autonomous vehicles are also expected to disrupt the logistics industry. While autonomous trucks transporting goods are still a ways away, autonomous mobile robots (AMR), like automated forklifts, are already making an impact.

Lior Elazary, co-founder and CEO of California-based inVia Robotics, told Robotics Business Review the future is “full end-to-end automation, with zero touches and minimal mistakes, from the product being delivered to the time it leaves the warehouse floor.”

Environmental Sustainability

Another big trend on the horizon is sustainable logistics. Consider what it takes to get a product from manufacturing to store shelves. The management of that process, or logistics, involves manufacturing, transportation, warehousing, inventory management and retailing. As consumers become more informed about the environmental impact of their purchases, they are demanding companies not only offer sustainable products, but green logistics as well. And it’s working.

Nielson predicts the sustainability market will reach $150 billion by 2021. The company reports almost half (48%) of U.S. consumers say they would definitely or probably change their consumption habits to reduce their impact on the environment. This means that for companies, a greener supply chain could help boost its image and bottom line.

One of the challenges the logistics industry faces is curbing air pollution on last-mile deliveries while satisfying consumers’ demands for same or next day deliveries. But there are plenty of ways companies can go green, or at least lessen the environmental impact of their supply chain, including recycling materials and using renewable energy.

If your company invests in green technology, make sure to promote your sustainability efforts to make your customers, existing and potential, aware.

Diversification

Did you know that ecommerce sales are estimated to hit $4.5 trillion by 2021? That’s a lot of ecommerce companies selling goods online. And when it comes to 3PLs, there are a lot to choose from. What can a fulfillment company do to stand out from the rest? Diversify.

Every businesses looking to outsource order fulfillment has different needs. These could include:

  • Pick and pack or kitting services
  • Warehousing services
  • Inventory management
  • EDI services

To succeed, a 3PL needs to add value by providing fulfillment services that can be customized to meet the needs of any size B2B or B2C business. The logistics landscape is always growing and evolving. Adopting to changes in the industry as well as new technologies should matter to every company’s success.