How to meet the logistical challenges through technology in 2023
Over the past three years, the logistics sector has had to deal with the consequences of crises resulting from pandemic, supply chain and global economies. As social movements occur and the values of a community are updated, technologies are developed and trends emerge that gain relevance within the logistics industry.
Global events and situations such as globalisation, e-commerce, digitalisation and sustainability have brought about changes in the logistics industry over the last ten years, and will be drivers of change in the future.
In all these episodes, technology has played an important role, whether with new uses for pre-existing developments, such as robotics in the warehouse, or the emergence of applications and platforms.
Immersed in this context, logistics has gone from being a silent “behind the scenes” operation to playing a key role as a value driver. To maintain this strategic place, resilience and process efficiency will be fundamental for the sector in 2023, along with sustainability and technology applied to different areas of the business, from warehouses to delivery drivers, and above all, in three main axes.
According to a survey of consumers aged 18 to 70 by CTT Express, 70% of consumers expect to “return their online purchases from home and without the need to print labels”. In addition, the UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper report reveals that the return experience affects the purchase decision of 73% of consumers globally.
Therefore, the ability to return a product that does not meet expectations has an impact on sales rates and brand positioning. This is one of the reasons why reverse logistics should be a priority: it affects the perception of service. How it improves or affects the shopping experience can be a turning point for customer loyalty and a company’s competitiveness in the market.
2023 presents a great opportunity to fine-tune reverse logistics processes and learn from mistakes and successes. We must think about consumers and negotiate between solutions that adapt to what they are looking for and need, and the capacity of companies to respond to their demands. For this reason, technological tools such as route optimisation systems will be key, as they make it possible to manage delivery logistics as well as returns, maintain constant communication in real time with customers, and take care of costs, which are the Achilles heel of many businesses.
It is estimated that by 2050, 68% of the world’s population will live in urban areas. In other words, in less than 30 years, the world’s urban population will have increased by 3.4 billion people in an increasingly digitalised world, in which people will continue to consume digitally.
The demand for immediacy in logistics is something that we are already experiencing and which presents its own contradictions. On the one hand, large logistics operators in a market that demands efficiency and speed, with the ability to offer same-day delivery, for example, while consumers make a conscious choice of who to buy from based also on values such as sustainability. However, this is at odds with the demand for immediacy in product delivery.
The fact that consumption is closely linked to personal values is an opportunity for companies that have a logistics operation. Not only can they focus on becoming more sustainable with big acts, but they can start with small, achievable actions today, such as planning their routes efficiently, so that they can face what comes next with greater strength.
Today, manufacturers, distributors and retail businesses have a more direct link to the end consumer and, as mentioned above, are looking to deliver in record time. As a result, while 2023 will see an increase in fleets, it will not be the only way to meet expectations. Attention will have to be paid to other factors such as: making more efficient use of available cargo space, detecting what is not working and fixing it, seeking strategic support in planning and control technologies, and finding ways to encourage employees and partners to be part of the change as well.
Robotics in logistics
Technology in distribution centres through robots or electronic devices is an intelligent strategy to streamline processes and ease the burden on employees or operators who are responsible for preparing orders in the shortest possible time to enable the work of carriers. To accompany innovation in this area, it is important for companies to incorporate technology “from the door to the outside”. This means that they can offer their customers the possibility to know the exact time their order will arrive and to track the journey in real time.
In addition, innovation creates empowerment for the logistics workforce by enabling them to perform their tasks in a simple, convenient and seamless way. The greater the investment in technology, the more can be achieved in terms of staff satisfaction and the tools necessary for them to perform their tasks efficiently.
In conclusion, sustainability to transform logistics in the short term and face the problems of the future, the search for resilience in the supply chain, technology for informed decision making and to improve long distance processes and innovation in terms of robotics for warehousing and other processes will be the key to face the challenges that lie ahead this year.