Shipping logistics is a compounded process with several moving parts. The demand for logistic services soared at an all-time high in 2020, nearly doubling its 10-year value. Logistics Business’ report on the demand for UK logistics showed that about 40% of all take-up from 2020 is accounted for by e-commerce, another fast rising industry that’s set to earn a 22% increase by 2023.
Moreover, the pandemic response has created a bigger surge in demand for logistics and an even faster dispatch speed, as previously discussed in our ‘Dispatch Speed is Your Competitive Advantage’ article, as meal kit operators, parcel delivery and fulfilment, and medical suppliers have expanded operations.
The logistics process involves planning, sourcing, and transporting products, among many other things. Indeed, it would be a very complex line of work without technology. You’d have to contend with rapid changes, non-stop operations, and, not to mention, you’ll also have to factor in human error.
Fortunately, the increasing demand for logistics is happening alongside the rise of new technological innovations to help speed things along and simplify the process.
What started out as a technology for Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, blockchain technology has made its way into the logistics and supply chain industry. It allows data to be stored on a shared global network, giving multiple companies and stakeholders real-time access to valuable information without letting them alter any of it.
It helps streamline the flow of operations and improve transparency throughout the entire supply chain network. Tech expert Vitaly Kuprenko’s write-up about the pros of blockchain emphasises how blockchain technology reduces operational expenses too. He attributes this to blockchain’s ability to eliminate the need for intermediaries, thereby diminishing commission expenses.
Another feature of the technology that Kuprenko talks about is the security of transactions made within the blockchain; it’s impossible to change or edit a transaction once it’s documented on the network—leading to a reduced chance of fraudulent activities.
Telematics, or the use of telecommunication and information technology together, has been used in several industries for many years. Although the logistics industry has certainly benefited from it in recent years. Telematics streamlines the management of various warehouses and large fleets—and as the logistics industry will continue to grow this technology will become increasingly important.
Two of telematics’ principal contributions to logistics are product transparency and traceability. When integrated well into logistics operations, telematics technology lets companies track where a given shipment is in real-time. What’s more is that future fleets are projected to be made up of connected vehicles, making them ready for telematics.
In fact, Verizon Connect’s post on connected technologies highlights how the connected truck industry in the European market will reach £9.70 billion by 2023. This is at a year-over-year rate of 12% from 2018. With a mix of built-in tracking devices and connectivity features in future fleets, it’s incredibly beneficial to start including telematics in your fleet management now. This gives you a competitive edge, as well as a smoother operations chain.
It’s said that the logistics automation market is expected to reach £88.24 billion by 2027, from £23.5 billion in 2018. This makes it one of the leading trends in the logistics and supply chain sector.
From self-driving vehicles and warehouse automation, to industrial robotics, automation is set to dominate the logistics industry. For one, giant online retailer Amazon, is using Kiva robots to automate the warehouse selection and packing processes.
These robots fulfil “one-click” orders in less than 15 minutes, a mere third of the total time it would otherwise take a typical human employee to perform the same task.
Another way to incorporate automation into your business is through using a cloud-based fulfilment hub like our End-to-End Fulfilment Service, where you can manage your eCommerce business through an easy-to-use portal. We’ll help you come up with a fulfilment solution from the warehouse down to last mile logistics. It allows for a hands-free approach to eCommerce while still letting you track all transactions and enjoy full transparency.
This may be the next step after the use of smartphones and tabs, but it’s seeing a surge in the logistics industry since it literally frees up more hands. Using wearable technology, employees are able to access data and information almost instantly, without having to review and create paperwork. This maximises manpower and time.
One example of how wearable devices are used according to Food Logistics, is the integration of voice technology with wearables: A warehouse associate could drop a cart at the end of an aisle and then speak a command into their wearable device, which would then trigger an automated machine to pick up that cart for the next step in the shipping process.
In addition to that, wearable devices can be used as safety and health tools as they can help monitor employees’ vital signs. However, it must be said that companies could face an initial challenge when they first adopt wearable technology. Employees may not be adept at using them immediately. It requires a seamless on-boarding process and workflow for you to see significant improvements in efficiency.
“Green” or environmentally-friendly logistics isn’t just a trend, it’s part of a global movement. Fortunately, this move to help conserve the planet is cost-effective and one that can even help with customer retention. Contrary to popular belief that going “green” costs more, opting for a more sustainable route actually saves you money. It pushes you to reduce waste and increase the efficiency of warehouses, vehicles, and machinery, and this can reflect in leaner expenditure. A great example of this is UPS’ investment in 10,000 electronic delivery vehicles, decreasing their expenditure on gas and maintenance.
Another reason to make this change for the planet is enjoying an improved reputation. Roughly 81% of consumers believe that businesses should take part in earth conservation efforts—and this could very well factor into their buying decisions.
Logistics as we know it will continue to evolve as technology develops; and it will help create a more connected, sustainable, and integrated global community.
Exclusively written for selazar.com By Jem Haw
As the writer and content manager for Selazar Matt’s aim is to provide useful content on logistics, technology, marketing, and strategy for eCommerce businesses. He wants to help businesses and retailers thrive by staying updated on the latest trends while also learning the best practices to expand their operations.