Comment | 31 January 2019
As we all take a chance to have a cup of tea and a moment to ourselves after the non-stop hecticness of peak, it’s a good time to consider what 2019 has in store for those of us in the logistics sector.
Aside from Brexit and the end of Game of Thrones (perhaps the two biggest stories of 2019!), in the logistics sector there are challenges and opportunities coming.
While the challenges in the construction market, for example, may not necessarily be the same as those in grocery, there are many that span different sectors. Below, we look at some of these shared challenges and opportunities we’ll see in 2019.
Sustainability vs cost
As consumers, we’re becoming increasingly aware of and interested in the environmental and socioeconomic impact of our purchases. In fact, 73% of millennials across 60 countries surveyed by Nielsen were willing to pay more for sustainable products. The last few years have been littered with stories of companies failing to respond to this change and finding the negative publicity reflected on their balance sheets.
There is clearly a huge opportunity here for companies to demonstrate their corporate social philosophy in a visible and transparent way. Alongside the influence of the conscious consumer, increasing regulation from government and agencies, such as the introduction of low emission zones, means businesses must truly understand the environmental and socioeconomic impacts of their products and supply chains. Sustainability is sure to be one of the key differentiators throughout 2019 and beyond.
Of course, there’s a cost benefit to collaboration which makes it attractive to many businesses. Allowing other businesses to use your assets, such as vehicles and warehouses, when you’re not using them yourself, provides benefit for all. Even sharing assets with a competitor can drive real benefits for both parties. Empty warehouse space is a drain, so why not rent it to someone else until you need it? This works especially well in instances where collaborating businesses have opposite peak periods. As the support systems and technology which help facilitate collaboration improve, expect to see collaboration increase.
Logistics is a people business. Our colleagues are our biggest asset but recruiting and retaining the best talent is a challenge. As an industry, we must improve our ability to showcase the breadth of opportunity and career development available. Take for example the changing role of the warehouse operative. The roles we now see in the warehouse environment are more varied and diverse than ever before. The roles of picking and packing, sit alongside engineers, customer service professionals, automation specialists and solution designers. The roles incorporate use of cutting edge technology, supported by continuous training and offer brilliant development opportunities.
The customer is King
Consumers want a vastly different experience than they did 10 years ago. Demands for access to a wider range of products, a seamless multichannel experience, convenience, and an increasing demand to be served directly are all having an impact on how supply chains work. Legacy systems are being rapidly outpaced by agile and responsive new ones. Understanding how consumers are changing and how to best meet their needs isn’t new. But competition is fierce and those that fail to anticipate and adapt will be easily muscled out by more responsive companies.
Data underpins everything. Its collection across business operations is nothing new. But over recent years the amount of data easily available has exploded. And now we’re moving into a new phase where we see multiple data sources, from across business operations, being analysed together to reveal some truly interesting things. This deeper understanding of operations and customers gives companies clarity on their business and direction. And we’re not running out of data anytime soon. The challenge is in knowing what questions to ask of the data and the opportunities for those that ask the right ones are huge.
So, there you have it. A brief look at some of the key trends you can expect to see influence the logistics industry throughout 2019 and beyond. This list is by no means exhaustive, and some sectors of the industry will have very specific challenges and opportunities.
You can find out how Wincanton is embracing these challenges and opportunities through technology and partnership here: https://www.wincanton.co.uk/innovation/