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As the supply chain and logistics industry continues to struggle in the wake of pandemic disruption, we can pretty much throw all previous methods of forecasting out the window.
We’ve learned to expect the unexpected, to adapt quickly when faced with challenges, and to triumph over adversity in ways we might not have thought possible (or necessary) just a couple of years ago.
New predictions and trends have emerged to reflect our current reality—and all things considered, it’s been a remarkable ride. Not an easy one, by any stretch, but the resilience and ingenuity of our industry cannot be downplayed. In a time of incredible global upheaval, the logistics industry ensured we had what we needed to survive and thrive.
How we accomplished the impossible is at the heart of this post, as it provides us with a solid blueprint going forward.
Future Trends in Cargo and Freight
Look to these trends to shape the future of logistics in 2021 and onward:
1. Strong partnerships make the world go ‘round. Working closely with carriers, ports, and other industry partners is essential. We accomplish so much more when we work as a unit rather than trying to move the mountain ourselves.
2. Consumer spending shifts to essentials. Groceries, perishables, and all the staples of life once the sole milieu of on-premise stores have gone online. Even now, with things going back to semi-normal, most shoppers have changed their habits for good.
3. Online shopping accelerates. Aside from the essentials, consumers in just about every demographic now prefer to shop online. The most successful companies leverage third-party logistics to support them in satisfying consumer demand.
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4. Local and regional supply networks attract more interest. Last-mile logistics are vital to satisfying consumer habits for same-day grocery delivery. Scalable, on-demand, and climate-controlled warehousing is also essential to ensure adequate supply. There is high demand for such space at the moment, so securing capacity is critical to prevent service interruptions.
5. Digitization is critical for peak network operation. To facilitate expedience, mitigate delays, and reduce errors caused by manual processes, digitization is an absolute essential. Warehouse management systems (WMS) and logistics software enable load optimization, simplify multi-carrier/multi-mode shipments, ensure regulatory compliance, and democratize communication between stakeholders to ensure efficiency and predictability. Companies that have not yet undergone digital transformation will lag, while those that have digitized will have new opportunities to scale operations and satisfy customer demand without adding complexity.
6. Automation increases to control costs and improve productivity. Our industry is facing a serious labor shortage right now. Without automation, this trend could threaten the foundations we’ve built so far. Automation helps us do more with fewer personnel, allowing our employees to focus on delivering a higher standard of service. Automation also enables predictive maintenance and gives us access to high-level data that helps us improve operations and forecast demand more accurately.
In conclusion, the pandemic has propelled our industry forward in many exciting ways. We now have the insight and capabilities to meet today’s expectations, and we know we can triumph over what lies ahead.
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