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A Decade in Logistics: 3 Shifts That Impacted Logistics

The past decade felt like everything has sped up. The economy, technology, and development of many industries have experienced a substantial jump in growth. For logistics and transportation, it has been a decade of huge and really impactful shifts. Mainly driven by the steady invasion of technology, the industry was reshaped in many ways, including safety regulations, operations, and other important transformations.

What were the most important shifts in logistics throughout the decade?

The changing face of the trucking industry

Technology changing the industry is quite obvious, but the ways in which these innovations have influenced logistics and transportation are not. 10 years ago, trucking had a very different face. A huge jump in trucker technology made drivers lives easier, reshaped safety regulations, improved tracking, and data storing. With electronic logging devices (ELDs), truckers can accurately record their working hours, send and receive updates, and share records on their duty status. These technologies had a huge impact on safety regulations, such as shifts in Hours of Service (HOS) rules and many other policies tailored towards increased drivers’ safety.

Technology impact

Apart from the trucking industry, supply chains have also experienced a huge upgrade thanks to digital innovations. The development of robust, more advanced transportation management systems and similar applications have redefined the way supply chains are working now. Increased visibility, connectivity, data storage, and safety all make it much more efficient.

Also, many other tech innovations like IoT, blockchain, robotic devices, and autonomous vehicles have all made a recent decade very significant for the logistics industry. From top-level customer service and same-day deliveries to automated warehouses and self-driven trucks, the past few years have shown that the progress in the industry is speeding up.

The growing demand for 3PLs and outsourcing

Another important thing that the past decade has taught us is that more and more shippers are turning to 3PL service rather than arranging an in-house logistics department. From 2010 to 2018, the gross revenue produced by the U.S. third party logistics providers has doubled, going from $127 billion to $213.5 billion. Generally, outsourcing has grown in recent years. From deploying specialized software to using various outsourced services, companies are becoming more flexible, integrated, and collaborative in terms of logistics and supply chain management. Considering the rising costs of in-house logistics services, rising trade tariffs, fuel prices, and capacity issues, it became much harder to navigate transportation even for large and mid-sized businesses. All these factors made 3PL’s the best solution for transportation and supply chain management.

3PL Trends That Are Shaping the Logistics Industry

Third-party logistics providers already make a big impact on the transportation industry today. According to surveys, the amount of 3PLs users is growing and has reached 81 percent for domestic transportation in 2018. There is no surprise that fast and convenient shipping is a must for a company’s success. Demands for delivery rates and customer service rise every day. Therefore, efficient transportation management and awareness of 3PL trends become crucial to stay in the game.

There is a boiling competition between 3PL providers to stay ahead of trends on the market and in the industry. As big players like Amazon set the shipping standards higher and higher, third-party logistics services must apply smart technologies and follow the trends to keep moving forward.

Here are the main 3PL trends that companies should focus on in order to enhance their service and capabilities:

Value-added services and transparency

One of the most influential and enduring trends in 3PLs’ future is effective communication with clients. No business today survives only on a good product or technology — customer service is vital for building brand identity and obtaining loyal partners.

3pl trends

Unorganized and complicated transportation management is reasonably outdated, so transparency and value-added services will become more prevalent in the upcoming years. Free audits, forecasts, list of available services, and freight visibility will increase customers’ confidence level, giving you a primary advantage over the competitors.

Analytics and automation

Year after year, it becomes more relevant and needed, and 3PLs need to invest in new technologies to keep an eye on insights and have more accountability and information for boosting sales. New technology helps bring more consistency to the supply chain, and automation is essential for operating the logistics process. The decrease of labor-intensive tasks and cut of manual work involvement causes faster and more efficient production. 3PLs should utilize technologies that will fill in the current gaps in the chain, from transportation management systems to self-driven vehicles.

Investing in last-mile delivery

We all have to confess that shipping giants like UPS and Amazon are setting the trends for the industry. At this point, they have already developed specialized services for quick and reliable delivery directly to the customer. Last-mile delivery is the final element of the shipping process that leaves a certain impression about the shipping provider in the customer’s mind. Even if someone else failed, you are responsible for the consequences and customers’ experience. Investing in better service and technology to improve the last step of shipping is vital.

There is no doubt that 3PLs are in demand, but this also means an increase in the competition. Technology continues to advance. This means companies integrate their shipping process and supply chains. Ultimately, new trends will come into focus throughout 2019 and into the future.

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