The future of the logistics industry and the trends shaping it
Over the past three decades, the logistics industry has changed as we know it. It is no longer what it used to be, and currently certain trends are shaping it. As technology continues to take over the logistics industry, as in other industries, managers need to adapt their strategies and come up with new plans and business models to maintain their position in an ever-competitive market. Certain trends, both technological and non-technological, will define the future of the industry for the next three decades or more, and investors and managers need to be aware of what these trends are. We briefly discuss them below.
The effect of COVID-19
The pandemic that struck the world in the year 2020 has affected the lives of everyone on the planet, and businesses have felt the pinch, too. Some industries have suffered more than others, but fortunately for the logistics industry, many businesses have experienced a spike in demand for their services. In line with government directives such as social distancing, many businesses have largely adopted technology (such as the use of automation and robots to load containers). In addition to implementing the technology, many logistics companies have adopted the China Plus One strategy. This strategy involves the deregulation of service and production capacity spread across different locations to reduce risk. The Plus One strategy is a kind of diversification strategy. We expect logistics companies to learn lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic and to diversify their supply chains to reduce the potential risk of relying on just one chain.
Another trend shaping the logistics industry is the emergence of a silver economy. This economy operates under a model called servitization. The company that uses this model only pays for equipment that is in use on a per-hour or per-day basis. This strategy will be beneficial for companies that want to reduce costs, improve profit margins and reduce losses if they occur. Already, many companies in the industry are using this model with varying degrees of success using blockchain contracts. We also expect supply chain service providers to develop partnerships of all kinds. This trend will continue.
As already noted, the technology already plays an important role in the industry and automation is one of the aspects of this technology. In the coming years, human-machine cooperation is set to intensify. We expect business managers to use automation at every level in the supply chain, such as deploying robots to perform specific tasks or relying on automation to choose the right mode of transport for each customer. Automated subscriptions will also become very common.
Private space companies are taking over. In fact, a space race has already taken place, and one company that has remained in the top spot for its innovation is SpaceX. As NASA deregulated its supply chain, we saw the agency issue contracts to space companies with the competence to transport space loads to the International Space Station. In 2019 alone, the space agency awarded private companies with supply contracts worth up to 7 billion dollars. We expect this trend to continue as NASA plans to cut costs.
The logistics industry was the second most affected industry by cybercriminals in 2019 and 2020. To protect themselves, industry players are strengthening their security teams to protect customer privacy, shipping security and online payment. The use of smart technology to detect malicious or unsanctioned activities will become common this year and beyond. Businesses that want to protect themselves and their customers from hackers will need to secure every aspect of their business if they are to succeed in today’s volatile online space.
The trends discussed above are just some of the trends shaping the industry, but there are more. Business strategists and industry managers who want their companies to remain competitive in the future will need to adopt innovative ideas to stay current and successful in the competitive industry.