The importance of well-planned ground transportation logistics cannot be overstated. In today’s ever-shifting, increasingly connected marketplace, managing global transportation flows effectively is essential to overall business success. At least that’s the view of several leading decision-makers surveyed in a recent DHL Supply Chain study.
In this study of more than 200 global transportation decision-makers across various sectors, DHL Supply Chain found that “Transportation is moving up the ‘strategic importance ladder.’ ” Some 75% of those surveyed said that investing time and resources in effective and efficient transportation directly helps sales.
In partnering with ground transportation providers, suppliers consistently looked for several attributes, according to DHL. These key attributes include:
- Availability of multiple transportation solutions
- Global presence
- Fair pricing
- Ability to solve complex issues created by e-commerce
How E-Commerce Is Driving Heightened Customer Expectations
Strategy&, PwC’s strategy consulting group, estimates that 11 billion packages will be delivered in 2018, with that number jumping to 16 billion by 2020. It’s expected that e-commerce will represent two-thirds of that volume. After all, e-commerce, which already accounts for 9% of total retail sales, is growing at a double-digit clip.
Even as volume increases, customers expect ever-faster delivery of their orders. For effective resolution of last-mile delivery problems, manufacturers or vendors often rely on external partners such as FedEx, UPS, or mom-and-pop delivery services to get packages into customers’ hands in increasingly urbanized — and therefore heavily congested — regions.
Customers today expect immediately available inventory, rapid problem resolution, and flexible policies, in addition to high-touch, high-value service.
The Digitalization of the Ground Transportation Sphere
Industry players are also well aware of the need for advanced software tools and digital technology to better integrate ground transportation. But there are regional differences in actual digital readiness. While 55% of DHL’s global respondents feel prepared, only 43% of respondents in North America were confident in their data integration capabilities.
Nevertheless, 63% of DHL’s respondents predict that artificial intelligence (AI) and Big Data will “significantly increase” transportation decisions. With digitalization initiatives in place and improved analytical prowess, businesses can:
- Optimize transportation networks based on transport costs and service data analysis
- Value sustainability and zero-emission initiatives
- Incorporate predictive delivery initiatives
- Mitigate risk
- Find capacity quickly
- Prevent reputation damage by quickly identifying emerging issues
- Offer real-time transport visibility
As Javier Bilbao, Global Transport lead and CEO Latin America, DHL Supply Chain, told Manufacturing and Logistics IT, “Technology will be central to navigating this new era for ground transportation. … [AI and data analytics] are now viewed as essential services, rather than added benefits.”
The Ground Transportation of the Future
As ground transportation comes to be viewed as increasingly important to bottom-line success, companies are looking for new ways to adapt to the rise of e-commerce, enhanced service expectations, and the push for digitalization.
Whether driverless trucks or solar-powered vehicles are next, one thing remains constant: the need to stay abreast of new cost-saving, efficiency-enhancing technologies and trends that allow companies to remain agile in today’s ever-shifting logistics landscape.