Logistics has been around since the beginning of time as people have moved goods from place to place using livestock, wagons, ships, trains, trucks and pushcarts. They knew what needed to be moved, what their capacity was, and how many months, weeks or days they had to move their goods. For the most part, the industry evolved predictably and logically, taking advantage of the latest innovations to meet market demands. But today’s logistics industry is scrambling to adapt to the unique pressures exerted by three forces in the modern economy:
1. E-commerce and the decline of traditional retail, which has fundamentally reshaped the retail experience and the logistics industry behind it. E-commerce has expanded the map of where things are consumed, and meant that small volumes are being shipped to more locations, affecting both last-mile carriers and others higher up the supply chain.
2.The on-demand economy and the “uber-ization” of everything, which has made almost any product or service instantly available. In addition, customers now expect near-immediate, fully trackable and predictable delivery – only increasing pressure on product and service providers.
3. Autonomous Vehicles - drones and autonomous vehicles (AVs), which offer the promise of executing challenging deliveries efficiently, but also have operations teams wondering how their workforce will evolve over the next fifteen years.
The question is what effect these factors will have across the logistics industry. Some teams are struggling to mitigate the impact of these issues on their current processes and systems, while others are looking to new technology (machine learning, AI, cloud and mobile) to meet the challenges head on, and carve out a competitive position along the way.
These topics are at the epicenter of today’s logistics industry, and we will explore them further here in the Wise Words blog, and in other media. In the meantime, if you’d like to read more on this and related developments, Deloitte’s paper, The future of freight: How new technology and new thinking can transform how goods are moved is highly recommended.
CEO @ Wise Systems