Globalization and technological advances have brought rapid change to the transportation and logistics sector in recent years and 2017 promises to be no different. Whether businesses are able to adapt and take advantage of those changes is a top priority for companies in the industry. From changes in the modern consumer’s needs and the skyrocketing growth of ecommerce to digitalization of the supply chain, automation technology, and the overall economic shift to the cloud, we see 2017 as being a pivotal year for transportation and logistics companies.
Here are the five most important trends we see impacting the industry.
The Modern Consumer
As is the case with many industries, transportation and logistics will continue to be shaped by rising consumer expectations in 2017. Those who have grown up in the age of Amazon have an inherent desire to receive goods and services instantly—putting increased pressure on transportation and logistics companies to deliver goods exceptionally fast, and at the lowest price. Consumers now demand unprecedented visibility into order status, tracking and delivery, forcing the industry to invest in new technologies and partnerships.
A Rise in Ecommerce
Increasing consumer demands are fueled by the explosive growth of ecommerce. According to a survey by UPS, 51 percent of purchases were made online in 2016. Moreover, the phone is becoming the primary shopping device of consumers, according to PwC, meaning that they can literally shop anytime, anywhere. To compete, retailers must employ an omnichannel logistics strategy to deliver a seamless shopping experience. This inevitably introduces new supply chain, fulfillment and shipping challenges.
Supply Chain Innovation
Omnichannel logistics lends itself to another trend that will be prevalent in 2017: the digital supply chain. Harnessing the power of IoT and data driven insights at various points along the supply chain offers huge potential to improve customer service and maximize efficiency. Big data and predictive analytics are empowering event-driven logistics that can account for external factors like natural disaster and war hazards which can help significantly reduce risk along the supply chain.
Automated Delivery of Goods
In addition, the movement toward automation is drastically improving productivity. Amazon has already started experimenting with drones as a new form of express delivery and advancements in sensor technology have made autonomous vehicles a reality for 2017 and beyond. These automated solutions have the potential to increase safety, reduce risk, and significantly increase efficiency.
Overarching the broader industry is the movement towards cloud logistics that enables, “logistics–as-a-service” business models. Innovations in the cloud have improved control over supply chain processes with access to real-time information—allowing companies to be more agile in response to volatility or disruptive events. Meanwhile, this same technology facilitates flexible integrations with other key business processes to optimize all operations.
Whether moving product via land, air, sea or a combination thereof, transportation and logistics companies have a lot on their plate. Advancements in technology and changes in way goods are bought and sold are creating complexity, but also opportunity for the industry. In order to keep pace, companies operating in this sector will have to learn to be agile, forward thinking and open to collaboration as they navigate the constantly changing global economy.