The winds of change are always blowing, but now, more than ever. Global innovation helps people, all over the world, raise their standard of living and make basic consumer goods more accessible. An increasingly globalized economy gives us greater connections across boundaries —but has made supply chain management an ever-tougher endeavor. Businesses, and their third party logistics affiliates, must learn to adapt to these swift changes.
As difficult as it might be to predict trends that will have a long-term impact on businesses, and which ones would be a part of short-lived hype, here’s my take on the key trends that would drive the sector to the next level.
Intelligent and Data-Driven Supply Chains
The technological landscape for logistics and supply chains is changing, rapidly. Making sense out of Big Data and implementing the learnings would result in a tremendous scope for optimization in the existing supply chain processes of manufacturing, warehousing, and last-mile delivery. To keep pace, processes will need to be automated, systems will need to be integrated, workers will need to have new resources, and managers will need to have better visibility. All of this requires investment into a technology that can do all of the above.
The paradigm shift caused by the age of empowered consumers has forced supply chains to reinvent themselves. To appeal to new customer expectations, the supply chains will become more consumer-driven with efficient future demand prediction, to ensuring supply meets the predicted demand. Predictive Analytics will not only highlight the expected outliers in the current scenario, but will also help model, simulate and predict future situations to aid in key-decisions.
It’s a term we have been hearing for a while now. What it essentially refers to is a network of physical devices that interact with each other, and with software systems. For enabling real-time decisions based on current status of your assets in supply chain, it is imperative that everything is in ‘sync’. Internet-of-things will be a positive step towards that, and something that the sector should look at closely. Recently announced, Amazon Go is a great 360degree application of the same.
With the advent of the gaming sensation, Pokémon GO, Augmented Reality has caught the fancy of everyone, and it is interesting to note the prominent role it can play in Logistics. A trending concept with AR is the usage of “smart glasses” by workers at the warehouse. This integrates product information into their field of view and has the ability to display product information in front of your eyes, scan barcodes, support indoor navigation, and fundamentally increase the efficiency of manually handling products.
Efficient Returns Management
According to an Aberdeen Group Report, organizations, which have streamlined their returns operations, have achieved nearly $300K in annual cost savings. Apart from the existing overheads of managing and optimizing the cost of returned goods, a lack of standard and fair quality checks contributes to the difficulties associated. According to a Harris Interactive Study, 95% of customers WILL shop with you again if the returns process is convenient. That says it all!
Autonomous Vehicles and Drones for delivery
With Amazon making its first drone delivery in Cambridge, UK, as part of its beta test with 2 customers, the concept seems to be moving towards quicker adoption the coming year in various other cities. Also, the technology behind autonomous vehicles is progressing to what is termed within the industry as Level 3. In 2017, the world is slated to have a look at the first level-3 autonomous vehicle—a vehicle that is able to fully take over from the driver. The speed of adoption in the logistics space, the related rules of the law to comply with, and various other factors will give us clarity next year on the potential it holds for Logistics.
It’s an interesting space to watch out for, with the impending implications and applications! The global logistics market is estimated to be close to $4 trillion - this represents 10% of the total GDP. An industry this size needs to constantly strive to become better as a whole. In all this, technology and Innovation will be the key driver. However, it is sure with each activity leaving behind a digital footprint, supply chains will be more reliable, efficient and cost effective.