9 Trends That Are Fuelling Growth In the Logistics Industry In 2022
Liberty is what defines market dynamics today. Consumers are no longer forced or required to shop for their preferred products and services from shops nearby. They have the liberty to go online, look for what they want and choose any eCommerce store they find right and get products delivered at their doorsteps.
Such massive transformations in consumerism come with its own set of challenges. From a business perspective, having an aesthetic eCommerce store that is stable and full of deals and discounts isn’t just the secret code for market success. What actually signifies the success of an eCommerce store is how it lives up to its words on quality products and timely delivery of them to their customers.
Enter The Fulfillments Industry
In such cases, supply-chain management or logistics or order fulfilment becomes crucial. The fact that a person from the US could order a customized hand-painted coaster from an Indian artist sounds dreamy or ambitious but what is closely tied to this dream is the challenge of getting that order fulfilled — shipping the product safe and sound and on time to the customer for the money’s worth that has been transacted as payment.
This is from a shopper’s perspective alone. From a logistics point of view, cost-effectiveness in delivery, inventory management, warehousing fleet management and more come into play.
This is where advancements in the supply chain spectrum come in. While the internet has been mainly going bonkers over the growth and sophistication of eCommerce stores and their new-found capabilities with Big Data and AI, tons of trends and innovations have been happening in the logistics space as well.
In this post, we will explore just that. From the incorporation of blockchain technology into supply chain modules to the use of automation and even IoT in supply chain management, there has been tremendous growth in this space.
So, let’s get started.
Top Trends Reshaping The Fulfilments Industry
Blockchain is probably one of the most incorporated tech concepts out there. From healthcare to entertainment, there is hardly any industry or market segment left where blockchain technology isn’t being experimented with. As far as the logistics industry is concerned, blockchain is paving the way for optimized efficiency and transparency in supply chain operations.
Like you know, the logistics space is all about clusters of vendors and teams working together perpetually. With every single entity involved, transparency has to be maintained while simultaneously juggling efficiency in product storage, retrieval and delivery. That’s why blockchain with its smart contracts offering is revolutionizing the supply chain segment.
Every stakeholder in the chain such as vendors, customers, warehouse managers, auditors, fleet operators and managers and more are kept on the same page through decentralized systems that are also tamper-proof. From reducing paper-based transactions (read loads of it) and traceability of assets and products to minimizing operational costs, blockchain is bringing in numerous benefits to those who have deployed the technology.
Digitalization Of The Industry
Digital transformation is the need of the hour, especially after the pandemic. This is predominantly because of the onset of sheer number of SaaS applications and tools that drive digital literacy and its usage. These tools are allowing eCommerce business owners, vendors and all stakeholders to bring down expenses associated with procurement and inventory management by giving them detailed insights on demand forecasts and predictions.
There’s no concept of over or understocking thanks to these portals and tools. Besides, digitalization is also helping supply-chain units detect patterns in deliveries and warehousing to make decisions for optimized performance with respect to efficiency, safety and transparency. As more tools continue to emerge, we could see more market disruption and significant reductions in waiting time for product arrival.
The Onset Of 3PL And 5 PL
The growth of the logistics industry is further fuelled by the onset of third-party and fifth-party logistics. For the uninitiated, 3PL is an end-to-end concept that includes solutions that cover a wide range of supply-chain related services and demands. This includes transportation and fleet requirements, inventory management, travel insurance management and more to significantly bring down procurement expenses and delivery times.
While this is happening, the concept of 5PL is also on the rise, which further encompasses integration with digital solutions to further optimize expenses and costs.
The Deployment Of Drones And Wearables
The news of Amazon working on drone-based delivery solutions grabbed eyeballs on the internet. However, this concept has been in the works for years. The deployment of drones and even advanced vehicles for that matter (such as autonomous vehicles) would not just ensure same-day delivery but make multiple deliveries when compared to humans as well. Let’s also not exclude the fact that drone-based delivery could connect even the remotest of locations and make delivery of goods and services possible.
Apart from drones and vehicles, wearable technology powered by augmented reality is also revolutionizing the fulfillments industry. From enforcing safety standards and education in warehouses and factories to ensuring error-free packaging and deliveries through product and facial recognition technologies, wearable devices are offering immense assistance to humans.
Airtight Last-mile Deliveries
Last-mile delivery is a crucial phase in the fulfillments space that is defined by the dispatch of goods from a warehouse to the customer’s physical location. This is crucial in the sense that it validates all the previous efforts put in by packaging and fleet management modules to ensure the product reaches customers on time.
With same-day deliveries increasingly becoming a norm across countries, last-mile delivery becomes all the more important. Perishables like food, certain medications, groceries and other essentials have to be packed and shipped in minimal time to make sure they are usable by customers.
This is making companies invest in their own network of fleets and modules instead of outsourcing to optimize last-mile deliveries. This surging trend is further expected to shape the logistics industry in the coming months.
The Role Of Data Science And Big Data
This is indeed a game-changer in the industry because it’s the era of Big Data analytics that allowed businesses and companies to uncover operational loopholes and areas for optimization from historic data and make better and informed business decisions.
From a task as simple as better product positioning to as minute as reducing fuel expenses in fleets due to a minor route detour, Big Data analytics provides extensive insights on a range of factors. With precision being crucial in the supply-chain segment, technologies like Big Data and analytics help companies achieve it seamlessly.
Logistics Automation And IoT
Concepts like automation and IoT wouldn’t have been possible without the onset and evolution of Big data and analytics. Logistics 4.0, as they call it, is the result of this evolution. As machines continue to become smarter and develop the ability to learn concepts and algorithms autonomously, we get closer to completely eliminating concerns that slowed down logistics operations such as opaque monitoring of cargo, fleet and transport delays, obsolete machinery, wrong packaging of goods and more.
Also, supply-chain is heavy with manual labor as well. From packaging goods to delivering them, there is tons of redundant work that people do on a daily basis. The entry of automation and IoT in the supply chain is rewriting conventions by replacing lines of code or automated systems to replace human efforts for optimized precision and efficiency.
Concepts like prescriptive and predictive analytics are being deployed to estimate machine failures, delivery timing, bad weather and more and prepare corrective measures in advance for uninterrupted delivery. Machines are also getting better at communicating crucial information and insights with other systems and modules such as for autonomous tracking and estimation of fleets and updating of inevitable records. The incorporation of edge computing is also turning the dullest of machinery and equipment smart.
We believe this phrase is going to be the new buzzword that’s going to get tech experts and supply-chain veterans excited to talk about. In the simplest of terms, elastic logistics revolves around scalability, where companies will have the ability to expand or shrink their logistics operations depending on their project and its requirements.
By being elastic in real-time, businesses can ensure agility and transparency in operations. This will also enable them to save on expenses and plan their expenses better for every fulfilment and not have a linear approach to delivering goods.
Implementation Of Chatbots And Collaborative Robots
Chatbots are prominent in the eCommerce industry as they allow customers to look for their specific products and services without an interface. They could simply dictate commands and systems would place an order autonomously. Besides, chatbots are also assisting in resolving customer conflicts and improving their overall experience. From billing discrepancies to shipping insights and real-time tracking, chatbots are executing tasks that were earlier done by humans.
Not just that, physical robots are making their way into the logistics space as well. Companies like Amazon are deploying robotic arms in their warehouses to speed up their packaging processes. Collaborative robots or cobots are also being deployed to assist humans in executing redundant tasks better. Together, different modules and systems are coming together to form an autonomous environment to make order fulfilment easier and rewarding.
This is indeed an exciting time as we’re witnessing newer innovations in the logistics space and ultimately in eCommerce development. While the supply chain was seen as a dull segment with numbers and fleets, this is being perceived as a hub for experimentation with different technologies.
We are only months or probably years away from experiencing newer delivery modules, even faster deliveries and sophisticated customer experience.