The supply chain logistics industry is a constant state of transition. However, given the digital technologies regularly cropping up, there seems to be an unprecedented number of shifts occurring throughout the market recently, many of which are causing a lot of uncertainty and challenges for companies in the sector.
To maintain an edge over competitors and ensure future sustainability and growth, it is imperative that organizations stay on top of existing and emerging trends. Keeping a finger on the pulse of the latest news and movements in the logistics industry can help supply chain managers gain a competitive advantage and ensure they adapt operations accordingly.
Below are some of the most important supply chain logistics trends, many of which were recently highlighted by Business 2 Community Contributor Samantha Carr.
Higher demand for warehousing space
Consumer expectations are intensifying at a rapid pace, especially in the e-commerce sector. As a result, many businesses are looking to expand warehousing and distribution facilities. In a race to lower shipping costs while simultaneously reducing delivery times, many organizations are grappling with ways to optimize inventory management. The need to fulfill orders faster than ever before, especially for same-day shipping, has resulted in the demand for more warehousing space and, as a result, the rent of these properties is on the rise.
According to Carr, research revealed that industrial and warehouse space rent increased 9 percent last year, with rates expected to continue to rise over the course of this year. Furthermore, over the past three years, surges in rent have made rates jump by at least a quarter and nearly all, or 97 percent, of warehousing space is currently being rented.
Rise of omnichannel
Running in tandem with the rapid acceleration of e-commerce and multi-channel purchasing is the development of omnichannel logistics. Trucking Info recently reported that this is a supply chain trend that global logistics provider DHL expects to gain prominent traction over the next five or so years, as retailers face amounting pressure to adapt logistics networks in a way that is agile and capable of meeting the various needs of a specific channel.
"This will require logistics providers to maintain an integrated view of all customer channels and inventory, along with dynamic delivery and fulfillment options and seamless customer service," the source stated.
Accessibility to logistics crowd-sourcing and cloud-based apps
Application development has transformed many business functions, supply chain logistics included. Crowdsourcing platforms have enabled companies in this industry to take advantage of the Uber-like model of transportation that has been heavily adopted for passenger trips and apply it to supply chain logistic functions. Using crowdsourcing apps for freight deliveries allow companies to leverage a more direct and affordable alternative to a traditional broker or carrier organization.
Additionally, Carr noted that more businesses are starting to shift various operations and functions to cloud-based models. For supply chain logistics, this means the ability to elevate collaboration, improve quality of customer service and uncover cost-savings opportunities. Furthermore, leveraging cloud applications can enable organizations to better meet the increased demand for more supply chain integration and visibility.
Increased interest in environmental responsibility
It's no news that consumers are becoming more interested in making sure their products are sustainability sourced. More businesses are realizing that that increasing supply chain visibility, traceability and transparency is a crucial component to their overall image and performance. The balance between maintaining competitiveness and demonstrating sustainability is what DHL refers to as "fair and responsible logistics" and is one of the top key emerging trends in the industry, Trucking Info reported.
When it comes to sustainability in logistics, Carr suggested that supply chain leaders pay special mind to carbon dioxide labeling. Why? This, she explained, offers insight into the production and distribution process of a company's products and, subsequently, "could transform the supply chain logistics industry as carbon output could become another 'cost' that manufacturers and distributors will need to consider and control in order to be competitive."
Robotic automation processes
Artificial intelligence, machine learning and other robotic technologies have driven - and will continue to drive - the biggest transformations in supply chain logistics. Self- driving and learning systems are significantly boosting productivity and efficiency of operations, reducing errors, unnecessary costs and the need for human workers at increasing rates. As a result, these digital technologies enabling autonomous supply chains are presenting companies with a competitive advantage as they streamline processes in a wide range of sectors, including warehousing, distribution and fulfillment, manufacturing and logistics.