Five Years from Now: Logistics Industry
- Published: 10 Mar 2017
Let’s face it: predictions are fun. It’s interesting to see what someone, based on their experiences and the knowledge they possess, thinks will happen in the immediate or far-flung future. Thankfully the PwC has gone into their predictions for the logistics industry in 5 years at the earliest. The PwC provides a lot of information to help substantiate their predictions. We highly recommend that you read the entire PDF, as it's a great read. Here are some highlights of the predictions that the PwC make.
New customer expectations
In both business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) relationships, the receivers of the products will expect faster, more flexible service that reduces defect rates across the board, just like today but with less acceptance if something goes wrong.
Regarding B2B, businesses expect more data analytics and more transparent supply chains to provide them with enhanced visibility and more predictability.
Regarding B2C, consumers expect low or no delivery cost.
One thing is clear, as the report details: becoming ‘digitally fit’ will be paramount in the logistics industry’s future.
A company's ‘digital fitness,’ as PwC calls it, will decide whether the company will be successful or will fail. A company that grasps and uses the full capability of the technology available will prosper. These technologies range from “data analytics to automation and platform solutions.”
Adoption of new technology will be challenging for the logistics industry because as it stands the majority of companies do not believe that they are technologically advanced by today's standards. This means that the majority of the industry has a long way to go to catch up to today's standards, let alone catch up and keep up with any technological advancements. Since about 90% of logistics industry experts believe that data and analytics will be important in the next five years, and the seemingly poor adoption of technology, those that do not upgrade their legacy software to state-of-the-art technology, like a TMS and WMS, will become obsolete.
Further integration and development of cloud technology will also allow for new business models, the PwC writes, such as “virtual freight forwarding.” Cloud technology will, as it does today, help standardize and harmonize processes across an entire company.
Automation technology has the biggest opportunity to revolutionize our industry's future. Many of the labour-intensive processes are already “being fully or partially automated, from warehousing to last-mile delivery.” These automated processes will save time and money, but not as much as fully automated package delivery, such as delivery drones or self-driving vehicles.
A new type of competitor
With the proliferation of more technology and automation, the industry will see new start-ups employing new business models.
For a modern example of a company with a different business model, take Nimber: a Norwegian start-up, Nimber matches commuters and travellers with people looking to ship items, large and small. In the future, something like Nimber may grow or pop up and take the industry by storm.
The PwC also notes that logistics start-ups may not be the biggest disruptor in our industry, but start-ups from other industries may be the biggest influencers in ours. The best example of this being self-driving vehicles.
Customer expectations, new innovative technology, and inter- and extra-industry competitors are the main things to look out for in the next five or more years, according to PwC. These predictions centre more around the evolution of current technology and trends rather than predicting that something will come out of left field. In terms of predictions, these are safe and will likely happen. It may not be as fun, but kudos to the PwC for trying to be accurate.