In today’s fast-paced world, it can be hard to keep up with all the new trends in logistics, especially when it seems like every time you turn around, there is something else you need to implement in order to stay competitive. Trends like artificial intelligence, machine learning, automation, blockchain technology, IoT and supply chain integration can be very beneficial in helping your business remain competitive and efficient. Keeping up with these logistics trends is more important than ever because consumer expectations are at an all-time high in regard to technology, immediate communication and ever-increasing delivery speeds.
Logistics Technology Trends
As we continue to make great advancements in technology, every industry has been affected, none more so than logistics. Today’s customers are technologically savvy with high expectations. They demand real-time tracking, fast shipping, flexible fulfillment options, and an excellent customer experience—whether it’s traditional or online shopping. Your customer service skills have to extend beyond chatting with your customers behind the cash register, to immediate email responses, and all the way to your social media accounts. According to Hootsuite, 59 percent of Americans who have social media agree that customer service via social media makes it easier to get questions answered and concerns resolved (1). 79 percent of Americans have a social media profile, according to Statista, which emphasizes the importance of social media as part of your customer service strategy (2). Your customers communicate on these platforms, and you need to be there, too. Implementing logistics technology trends like mobile applications, supply chain integration and personalized customization will help you give your existing customers what they want and attract new customers to your brand.
59 percent of Americans who have social media agree that customer service via social media makes it easier to get questions answered and concerns resolved.
The logistics industry is rapidly evolving, especially with the proliferation of increased delivery speed, making automation a relevant logistics technology trend. Simply put, automation in warehousing and distribution can refer to anything from physical automation to process automation. Some common types of warehouse automation are goods-to-person technologies that locate items and bring them to workers, pick-to-light systems where operators scan barcodes and LED lights indicate how many items should be picked and where they need to go, the digitization of manual processes and, of course, autonomous mobile robots that can be used for a variety of tasks within a warehouse. The level of automation really varies from company to company based on what types of orders are fulfilled and warehouse size. For example, physical automation is more costly to implement so it really only makes sense for a high-volume warehouse and distribution center. Investing in the right type of automation will allow you to decrease fulfillment time, human error and costly mistakes while increasing efficiency.
At ITS, we use a sophisticated warehouse management system that allows our employees to be more effective by automating processes. We also have in-house IT and engineering departments that allow us to custom-engineer solutions specifically for our customers. One example of this is Flexpick 2.0, proprietary picking and packing modules that are developed on an Azure Cloud server and allow us to increase productivity while making client onboarding easier. Our latest version will go live in September 2019 and will have robust picking capabilities within the following pick process; batch singles, batch multi with a secondary sort of either put-to-light or put wall, and traditional cluster cart picking with preorder cartonization and box selection. By automating manual processes, we are able to increase our efficiency and decrease errors.
We are consistently keeping up with the latest trends in logistics, and know that automation needs to be flexible, not rigid, due to the constant evolution of supply chains and changing customer behavior. We make it our goal to ensure that any new automation process we implement benefits you, makes your job easier, saves you time and money, and ultimately delivers a more valuable user experience to your customer.
Internet of Things (IoT)
Another hot topic in logistics technology trends is the Internet of Things (IoT). It has been on the radar for a while now and, while it might not have taken off as quickly as initially thought, it’s now becoming more relevant. This is particularly applicable when it comes to perishable items—almost 30 percent of perishable produce and products never make it to their destination (3). This disheartening waste is an opportunity for IoT to step in as the technology is becoming more standard.
IoT can track things like temperature and humidity during the transportation, distribution or fulfillment process to prevent goods from spoiling, as well as vibration levels for fragile goods and real-time location information. This is one of the trends in logistics that has real potential to enhance supply chain efficiency through real-time visibility and quality control. Whether you ship direct to consumer or to big box stores, you’ll be able to see as much information about your products as possible. With the prices of sensors becoming more affordable and the connection to the Cloud becoming standard, the possibility of mass adoption is increasing.
The Uberization of freight
You probably remember the disruption that ride share applications had on the public transportation industry. Due to the convenience of ride sharing, many people are more likely to take an Uber or Lyft than to call a taxi. One of 2019’s trends in logistics is the “uberization of freight” as some companies are looking to take the same philosophy that blew up the public transportation industry and do the same in the logistics industry. Businesses are already creating applications that will give clients more control of their freight transportation and visibility. The idea is that shippers will be able to see when carriers are close to them and book directly without having to use a broker, middle man or third party. There will always be a need for a high level of service, quality of carrier, industry expertise, and customer service, but this technology has the potential to disrupt the massive industry and is certainly something your company needs to monitor and prepare for.
Ecommerce industry trends & logistics
The ecommerce landscape is constantly changing as major players within the logistics industry innovate and introduce new technologies into their supply chains. Ecommerce industry trends show that increased communication with customers, engaging videos, voice search, personalized products, flexible payment options, and more are becoming commonplace. It is vital that your business meets these evolving customer expectations, all while offering appealing branding and high-quality products, as well as delivering a flawless fulfillment journey with fast shipping, real-time visibility and an effortless return process.
Another key ecommerce trend is mobile-friendly technology. Because of the growing number of consumers who use their mobile phones to shop, it is highly important to design your website and online buying experience to be mobile-friendly. According to Google, 61 percent of users are unlikely to return to a site if they had trouble accessing it on a mobile device (4). Essentially, your mobile website is vital to the success of your ecommerce business. On top of that, Google rewards mobile-optimized websites by placing them higher in search results, meaning prioritizing that responsiveness has SEO benefits too. Along with that, Chatbot technology is an example of relevant artificial intelligence that saves time and resources by automating customer support on platforms such as Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, websites and text messages. This trend is growing exponentially as it gives users an immediate response, provides personalized communication and improves overall customer service. Following these ecommerce and technology trends can be vital to your business success.
According to Google, 61 percent of users are unlikely to return to a site if they had trouble accessing it on a mobile device.
Potentially one of the largest ecommerce industry trends is omnichannel logistics. As ecommerce continues to grow in popularity, having a multi-faceted omnichannel distribution strategy is increasingly vital. Even with the increasing popularity of ecommerce businesses, it is important to offer fulfillment flexibility to your customers. One of the trends in logistics is that people want to be able to order items online and pick them up in the store or have out of stock items shipped to their homes from the store. In order to be successful in this market, you must deliver a consistent experience across all channels: your website, your storefront, multiple social media platforms, your ecommerce platform, review websites, and more.
Studies have found that only 5 percent of Americans limit their shopping to exclusively online and only 10 percent limit their shopping to exclusively offline, the rest shop equally online and offline. This means it doesn’t matter what type of ecommerce business you have, offering a true omnichannel experience is highly important for your user experience. You also need to offer two- or one-day shipping, a forgiving return policy, and customizable shopping options. These strategic choices will help you gain credibility as a business, and the loyalty of your customer base.
… you must deliver a consistent experience across all channels: your website, your storefront, multiple social media platforms, your ecommerce platform, review websites, and more.
Direct to customer shipping & drop shipping
In 2019, the popularity of direct to customer shipping is continuing to increase as ecommerce businesses are dominating the market. A big draw for ecommerce shoppers is having items shipped quickly and carefully straight to their door. Having an efficient direct to consumer fulfillment center is a great way to provide excellent service to your customers. Another one of the current trends in logistics is utilizing drop shipping to fulfill orders. This allows online retailers to save time and money on inventory and storage space while maximizing profits. Drop shipping can be used to compliment your existing ecommerce fulfillment services and help you run a successful ecommerce business.
Whether you are looking for a facility to help you provide flawless direct to consumer fulfillment, efficient vendor compliance or a comprehensive drop shipping strategy, ITS is here to help with innovative technology, team members with years of ecommerce and omnichannel expertise, and the IT and engineering to give you the customized solution you need.
1 Shapiro, “How Technology is Changing the Future of Logistics” https://www.shapiro.com/blog/how-technology-is-changing-the-future-of-logistics/
2 Statista, “Percentage of U.S. population who currently use any social media from 2008 to 2019” https://www.statista.com/statistics/273476/percentage-of-us-population-with-a-social-network-profile/
3 Forbes, “Logistics 4.0: How IoT Is Transforming The Supply Chain” https://www.forbes.com/sites/insights-inteliot/2018/06/14/logistics-4-0-how-iot-is-transforming-the-supply-chain/#50560ce3880f
4 SWEOR, “27 Eye-Opening Website Statistics: Is Your Website Costing You Clients?” https://www.sweor.com/firstimpressions
Distribution & Fulfillment Case Studies
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