In 2022, the influence of digitization has accelerated across the logistics market. Adopting the right solutions to streamline your operations and improve customer experience is quickly becoming table stakes for competing.
With the rapid advancement of technology in the industry, keeping up with the trends is critical to getting ahead and staying ahead. That’s why we’ve put together some of this year’s top trends to keep on your radar in the months ahead.
1. Automated quoting
With customer experience top of mind, carriers and forwarders are striving to reduce friction at every turn. For shippers, requesting a quote is the first step in working with a new freight forwarder, and therefore the most critical. However, many forwarders take a while to respond to inquiries, giving prospective customers time to lose interest or move on to another option.
RPA Labs conducted a study in which they sent out a rate request from a fictitious company to 86 forwarders. Only 27 replied to the request, 22 came from customer service representatives reaching out for more information that they’d use to manually create a quote. The other five included actual quotes, which RPA Labs speculated were generated automatically using the information they provided online.
With the growing importance of speed to quote for efficiency-focused shippers, adopting automated quoting solutions is becoming increasingly popular among competitive forwarders. The RPA Labs study found that the fastest response time from top forwarders was 4 minutes, compared to 1.5 hours from smaller forwarders.
2. Granular visibility
In recent years, customers have grown accustomed to the ability to follow their delivery location and status in real time. Especially during the COVID pandemic, as commerce shifted to online, many consumers found their grocery shopping routine replaced by the experience of placing an Instacart order and following your shipment from home.
This expectation has made its way up the chain, with shippers seeking out providers who can offer increasingly granular levels of visibility. In fact, according to The Power of Customer Experience in Freight Forwarding by Logixboard and FreightWaves, 81% of shippers view online shipment visibility as either “table stakes for working with a freight forwarder” or “a critical part” of how they evaluate their offering.
Not only is vessel-level tracking moving to the mainstream, but some shippers are even adopting solutions to give them real-time insights into the container level. Through new and emerging technologies, shippers and freight forwarders can gain enhanced insight into real-time shipment details, including cargo dimensions, attached documents, and location on the route.
3. Last mile technology
In the past year, the demand for same-day delivery and localized supply chains has put increasing emphasis on last mile– the final stage of the delivery process before it reaches its final destination.
If you’re not familiar with last mile logistics, picture a solution like Amazon Fresh or Walmart grocery delivery. These services provide timely delivery from a local warehouse straight to the consumer’s home, offering consumers greater speed and convenience.
As you can imagine, this final stage is a critical step in the delivery process. As end consumers eagerly await their merchandise, every minute counts. Therefore, optimizing last mile delivery requires the top-of-line technology in logistics, as well as more sector-specific tools.
As carriers and forwarders aim to conduct smooth last mile deliveries, many are beginning to adopt new technologies to accommodate shorter routes.
Last mile solutions may include:
- Advanced shipment tracking
- Gig economy applications
- Route optimization tools
- IoT sensors
- Robots/autonomous vehicles
4. Freight forecasting
As the shipping industry undergoes frequent periods of uncertainty, logistics professionals are looking for more ways to run lean operations. To achieve this, many are turning to predictive analytics to get the insights they need to make smarter decisions.
Freight forecasting is the practice of creating predictive models to project the freight market in the future. Reports may center on a variety of areas, including shipping rates, traffic/congestion, weather conditions, or order requests. Based on their findings, carriers and forwarders can take proactive steps by adjusting their resources or timelines.
To maximize forecasting accuracy, logistics businesses are adopting more advanced analytics and reporting tools. Rather than relying on Excel spreadsheets and templates, many companies are integrating their data management systems with solutions like PowerBI or Tableau to set up dynamic dashboards based on real-time data. In addition to providing them with enhanced insights, these tools reduce friction and streamline the analysis process.
5. Sustainability transparency
Going green has been a cultural focus for years, but it’s seen a new resurgence in the logistics and transportation industry. Consumers are increasingly calling for brands to undergo environmental reform with efforts like carbon neutrality and waste reduction. Since the shipping process makes up a large portion of a company’s emissions, significant progress hinges on changes in the supply chain’s impact.
Because of this, many shippers are finding ways to track and access their emissions data. That way, they can make more informed decisions throughout the process, then build reports to pass along to their customers.
EccoNetwork is one solution that many forwarders have turned to in an effort to move toward a more sustainable future. According to its website, “EccoNetwork is the first international community of forwarders sharing the same philosophy: Sustainability, innovation and avant-garde technology.”
EccoNetwork’s digital platform offers a dashboard to help freight forwarders calculate CO2 emissions and compare potential routes based on several factors, including cost and environmental impact. Through this software, members can break up their stats by categories including shipper and mode. They can also run reports to distribute to their customers, enabling them to track progress on their own goals and share their achievements with end consumers.
Digitization in the logistics industry is moving at a rapid rate, and it’s not showing signs of slowing down. While you don’t need to buy into every developing trend to reach and maintain success, staying on top of new technology can help you get a first mover advantage.