The pandemic revealed many things to manufacturers around the world. Companies were able to judge the stability of their supply chains during a time when the logistics industry was already undergoing a driver shortage and digital disruption to operations.
Changing consumer behaviors along with supply shortages has caused companies to scramble for solutions that support customer demand where people are making more purchases online and direct from manufacturers due to pandemic restrictions. Re-evaluating the gaps in their supply chains, and how to align services to consumer demand, has caused manufacturers to rethink their investment approaches in terms of adopting new technologies.
Aligning Tech Investments to Market Predictions
It is expected for companies to invest roughly in warehousing, fulfillment, supply chain management, freight and last-mile delivery segments. It is also expected that the logistical market will experience $ .
To help ensure the sustainability and versatility of supply chains to meet these changes, manufacturers are evaluating the following market predictions and the technology to solve them.
- Decentralized Warehouse Networks
Centralized distribution networks were the preferred methods. Manufacturers could do bulk shipments at lower prices to a central location. Yet customer demand for faster delivery and longer distances to remote locations has caused increased logistical costs. Now, decentralized warehouse networks that are closer to their customer base will become prominent.
- Faster Last-Mile Logistics
Fast and free or cheaper delivery demands have been popular for more than a decade. This need became even more pronounced during the pandemic. Roughly 96% of customers see fast delivery as same-day delivery. Even if a business does not offer same-day delivery, it will have to find ways to shorten delivery times from warehouse to the customer’s door.
These technologies might offer additional logistical options based on transportation routes and the customer’s location.
- Warehouse Scalability and Efficiencies
Market predictions continue to show that warehouse scalability and efficiency will boost productivity and output. These factors can then lead to accurate pick and pack services, faster delivery times, and enhanced inventory management. The types of tech solutions to pursue could come in many forms based on the size of operations and available budgets. More companies that are adopting automation in warehouses include pick and pack technologies and RFID. Artificial intelligence is also getting more attention to better predict stock rotation and supply ordering.
For smaller companies that cannot afford to manage their warehouses, supply chain as a service allows for outsourced warehousing, fulfillment, distribution and delivery services. Startups and ecommerce companies are seeking 3PLs that can scale their services to inventory and order output to reap the most cost savings.
- Ethical Sourcing and Traceability
Even though customers want their products quickly, they are watchful of how their purchasing behaviors impact the environment. Companies are also being mindful to provide safer and authentic products while eliminating fraud and counterfeit items that may reach customers.
The need for transparency has increased for many supply chains, especially those in the food industry, as tech companies are stepping up to these challenges. Innovations such as block chain and the Internet of Things allow companies and customers to track and trace products throughout the supply chain.
Customers gain a greater understanding of where products were sourced and when they will arrive. Meanwhile, companies have a better way to track shipments in real time and engage in accountability if any transportation problem arises.
Technology Is Intertwined in the Logistics Industry
Innovations continue to push supply chain capabilities into the future to meet the changing demands of customers. Investing in these technologies will require companies to fully understand the needs of their supply chain and tackle the risks so they can reap the reward.
Abour the Author: Jay Catlin is CEO at AMS Fulfillment, a leading order fulfillment company servicing B2B and B2C clients nationwide. Catlin has been with the company since 2002 and helped grow AMS into the successful third-party fulfillment entity it is today.