2020 was a big year for the logistics industry thanks to the boom in e-commerce, and it looks like it's here to stay.
From smaller, local, two man delivery companies, right through to large global logistics organisations, the majority of businesses in this sector have been forced to adapt at a faster pace than ever before; in order to meet the changes in consumer behaviour. Online shopping was already increasing before 2020, but some reports suggest that the pandemic accelerated the shift to ecommerce by as much as 5 years, thus it is not surprising that internet sales accounted for nearly a third of all retail sales from May to July 2020.
It’s anticipated that this e-commerce boom isn’t just a fly-by-night phenomenon - it’s here to stay. Even the most reticent online shopper will no doubt have ordered something online in the last 6 months, therefore becoming more accustomed to the online experience.
So how does the logistics industry ride the wave and prepare for the new future?
Imperative for being able to not only deal with this boom but also adapt as the situation evolves, are three very important factors:
- Being able to increase efficiency
- Being able to forecast more accurately
- Having access to real-time insights across the supply chain for an end-to-end service
Logistics management and improved efficiency is vital for any logistics business, as the impact is felt both internally by employees, and externally by their customer base. The benefits of increased efficiency of internal processes are felt internally, whilst customers feel the benefits of improved customer relations; the backbone of every business – ensuring that shipping, delivery and supply chain management work cohesively and seamlessly together at every stage. Being agile, and reacting quickly to changing demand and market conditions is vital.
One key element of increasing efficiency, is making use of the new technologies available - such as automation tools and software, that provide real time information. These tools can be instrumental in improving an organisations efficiency by optimising warehouse processes and improve lead times, through eliminating human error and the need for manual interference.
Forecasting more accurately
Being able to accurately forecast demand is the holy grail for any logistics business.
Maintaining a lean inventory means that the right amount of goods are in stock, with no risk of running out. This fine balance ensures warehouse costs don’t spiral out of control.
A combination of seasonal and intuitive planning, buyer trend analysis and demand exception management - with data at the heart of all of it.
Real-time insights for an end-to-end service
End-to-end visibility within the supply chain is a real game changer; possibly the most important factor in successful supply chain management. End-to-end visibility enables any disruptions up and down the supply chain to be identified, and for supply and demand to be synchronised - not just at the point of sale, but also at the time when delivery is needed.
The emergence of technologies in areas such as IoT and predictive analytics that provide this data, makes supply chain and operational awareness much more achievable - evolving from the traditional system of checkpoints at various stages of the supply chain journey into one where there is real time visibility at every stage between those checkpoints, which trigger real time automatic adjustments. This prevents costly disruptions and means logistics and shipping organisations have valuable insight into every stage, and are in full control of the shipment process.
The bottom line is that customer expectation is at an all-time high, with both individuals and businesses expecting to receive their goods faster and more flexibly.
With the new year upon us, technology can – now more than ever – support your business, whilst also helping you to prepare for what the future brings. Remember that the opposite is also true: the wrong technology can exacerbate an already fractured situation to rapidly become a significant point of failure. Choosing the right partner will allow you to feel both the benefits of technology, and peace of mind for your business.