The Global Ecommerce 2023 report, which is available to pre-register for now, highlights how advancing logistics technology has played its part in a year filled with economic and environmental challenges.
The logistics industry had only just recovered from the extremes of Covid-19 but this year, immediately had to face soaring energy costs and record-high inflation, as well as fluctuations in demand caused in part by the resulting low consumer spending.
A newly published study found that demand levels are the number one concern for 71% of logistics businesses. The Logistics Confidence Index 2023 highlighted that 75% of operators think business conditions are more difficult now than a year ago.
These businesses are also dealing with a rebalancing of retail as the ecommerce boom of the pandemic slows down. While shoppers may be able, and willing, to return to bricks-and-mortar stores, their delivery expectations have been forever changed.
Adjusting to the complexities of direct-to-consumer fulfilment, changing consumer habits and challenging economic conditions, has seen many of these companies turn to technology and advanced solutions in order to keep up.
The use of software, such as Transport Management Systems (TMS) and Warehouse Management Systems (WMS), is nothing new in this sector. Yet an increasing number of logistics firms are putting their faith in such solutions and 64% of logistics companies (64%) are investing in supply chain management systems, according to a recent report.
Unlocking the Future: Embracing Digital Transformation in Logistics found that 82% of logistics companies have increased their technology investments since 2020, with 95% of logistics organisations stating they will either increase or maintain their current levels of investment in new systems and technologies over the next 12 months.
The use of advancing technologies can help logistics companies deal with the ongoing challenge of labour shortages across the industry. Technology has been championed as a solution to drive efficiency, and therefore cost savings. It is also proving increasingly important in meeting sustainability targets.
“Through innovative technology and efficient digital processes, we need fewer resources and can reduce emissions,” says DSLV, the German freight forwarding and logistics association.
The cost of tackling emissions
Work to clean up the logistics industry is long overdue. Before the pandemic, the total transport sector accounted for a fifth of global CO2 emissions, with road traffic making up three-quarters of this.
Carriers, retailers and governing bodies are all setting net zero target dates. The UK’s freight transport association, now Logistics UK, is focusing its efforts on transport decarbonisation, stressing that it “is fully committed to achieving net zero
Investment in cleaner vehicles has remained high in 2023 and as the DSLV suggested, there has been a conscious effort to deploy the latest technology to help make logistics greener. This can mean routing software, or WMS to optimise inventory, manage resources effectively and reduce wastage. It can even be the introduction of AI-powered tools to analyse huge data sets and find how to optimise operations.
While the initial high investment needed for such technologies may put some companies off, addressing sustainability concerns is no longer just a box-ticking exercise or good for an environmentally friendly brand image. With governments worldwide collectively trying to limit global warming, the pressure is now on for everyone to limit emissions.
The logistics industry must quickly recognise it has a huge part to play and that investment into sustainable practices could also lead to business efficiency and substantial cost savings.
This feature introduces the logistics section within the Global Ecommerce 2023 report. It is then followed by a look at what is happening in the logistics industry across the continents. The report covers ecommerce logistic trends in Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, North and South America.
Pre-register for it now, and it will be delivered straight to your inbox upon release.