Unprecedented. Unforeseeable. Unbelievable. Or is it?
While the year 2020 has certainly unfolded in dramatic and surprising ways, as we move forward, there’s an argument that in the logistics industry, at least, some of the year’s themes have been around for quite some time. The extreme scenarios of a global pandemic, e-commerce surges, oil price freefalls, and civil unrest have merely magnified and accelerated underlying trends.
“Even before this disruption, the world was a volatile place, with tariffs and raw material costs fluctuating as quickly in response to Twitter blasts.” explained one academic to Logistics Management. “It was pushing companies to focus more on innovation based on core competences and allowing 3PL’s to take more charge of supply chains.”
Outsourcing logistics and transportation services to third party providers was already providing some much-needed cover for retailers managing the ebb and flow of volumes, costs, and conditions. But the relationship wasn’t always seamless.
The expert quoted above continued, “There’s a long-standing mistrust between 3PLs and shippers. This is a fundamental disconnect common to any outsourced relationship because the shippers don’t understand the 3PL’s world, yet they must rely on them.”
Establishing stronger, more functional, and more flexible relationships between shippers and 3PLs to manage this flux is crucial. CloudSort’s applications integrate seamlessly into existing relationships to help both parties succeed. Smarter sorting and routing of goods drives both efficiency and transparency, enabling more open and honest communications and fewer mistakes. Real-time data feedback loops also help to smooth out capacity, so there are no surprises. A stronger shipper-3PL relationship protects both sides from unforeseen curveballs.
A Digital Revolution
The rise in e-commerce volumes of 2020 have tested a system that was already strained. But many companies were already innovating to harness technology to help them stay ahead of a surge, or a blackout, like the one created as COVID-19 shut down manufacturing in China in January.
“Logistics has been in the midst of a tech-driven revolution,” a report prepared in partnership with a division of the World Bank asserts. “Companies with robust digital capabilities that allow them to provide cargo visibility/traceability and do business online are at an advantage.”
McKinsey & Co. mapped a broad range of new technologies that are re-shaping the industry. Even in 2019, when the realities of the coming year weren’t even on the horizon, many companies were already laying the groundwork for a new approach.
CloudSort’s solutions align and reinforce the ongoing digitalization of the logistics industry, bringing vast quantities of data into decision-making. The result? Smarter, more efficient, and more reliable shipping.
The holiday season is the ultimate test for any logistics company. With both shipping volumes and emotions running high, there’s a lot on the line from both a business and brand perspective.
Now, add in a global pandemic, and the stakes only get higher.
Retailers are responding by applying learnings from earlier in the year to get out in front. Modern Retail reports, “In order to prepare for the surge in e-commerce orders, some consulting firms are advising companies to diversify the number of carriers they work with, as well as to try and encourage customers to buy weeks in advance, instead of on historically busy periods like Black Friday and Cyber Monday. While some delays are inevitable, by getting ahead of the biggest surges in orders, the hope is that they won’t experience as big of delays as some of their competitors.”
CloudSort’s role as a partner, facilitator, and secret weapon for shippers, 3PLs and carriers themselves has never held more promise. Happy holidays, indeed!