The coming year is set to reshape how the logistics tech industry operates. Automation and robotics are leading the charge, and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is adding to the mountain of data being collected and analyzed for insights and better operations. Meanwhile, technology is stepping up to meet the added pressures and demand on the industry, and your company needs to understand where it will be felt the most.
1. Logistics Tech Will Become Data-Driven.
There was a time when logistics was simple shipping processes. But, modern logistics is data-driven, and this concept will become essential to success in 2017. By only looking at the increasing geographic, political and price barriers to shipping in different parts of the world and U.S., you will notice an increased data-collecting presence.
In other words, every new device or piece of technology that connects to the internet via Wi-Fi or wired connection is generating more information for businesses and shippers to use. For manufacturers, this means having more detailed, accurate forecasting models ready in real time. Consequently, shippers can respond almost immediately to an increased demand for any product, at any time, at the right the place and the right price.
2. Consumers Will Dictate Logistics Operations.
Regardless of increasing political concerns for shippers, consumers have the most power the in the relationship. They are the ones making purchases. Even among business-to-business partners, consumers define what will and will not be acceptable from shippers. Thus, accountability and visibility tools will be critical to keeping consumers happy in 2017. This will also translate into better levels of customer service to maintain and promote these relationships, explains Nishith Rastogi of Entrepreneur.com.
Since no one in the industry has an innate sense of clairvoyance, predictive analytics will be needed to gain insights and ensure enough products and customer service representatives are available to meet increasing consumer scrutiny and demands. Ultimately, having automation in this part of the product lifecycle will propagate or stifle future operations.
3. Returns Management Will Be Highlighted.
Consumers are holding shippers’ feet to the fire when it comes to returns. A return may be for damage, buyer’s remorse, inadequate product descriptions or other issues, and the anonymity of the internet is increasing the number of returns needed. Automated technology, including autonomous trucks, drones, and unpacking processes, will be required to meet this need.
Returns management will also be subject to greater scrutiny than previously as the ability to track transactions, and the stage of the product lifecycle grows more available to consumers. Mostly, robotics, handheld or RFID-triggered scanners may be used more often to handle returns, which will shorten the time between processing and refund for consumers, further increasing the public image of the company.
4. On-Demand Delivery Applications Will Create Amazonesque Delivery Windows.
Amazon has catalyzed marvels of invention and speed in logistics tech. The company is on track to begin using drones for national delivery in 2017, and this means competitors will be faced with catching up or going out of business. However, self-driving cars and autonomous trucks can be leveraged as well as drones.
In other words, creating a combination of these different parts can create the one-day or two-day delivery timeframes that consumers are coming to expect. According to Odyssey Logistics, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has cleared the way for companies to begin testing and using drones for commercial purposes. If the recent advances of Amazon Air are any indication of future success, your business needs to start looking at autonomous technology and robotics to stay competitive.
5. Augmented Reality Will Redefine Picking and Repair Processes.
Augmented reality (AR) is comparable to virtual reality, but it uses real-time images with layers of information presented to the user. For example, a pair of glasses might populate product picking information to laborers in a warehouse. This will eliminate confusion and errors as pickers will be able to verify products immediately.
Consider this example. A person reads a list of 8 pieces of information quickly, much like the automated handsets of today’s warehouse technologies. The average person can only retain about seven bits of information in short-term memory, give or take two. In other words, up to three digits or letters in the read-aloud code might be lost, requiring a person to replay and listen to the audio and confirm the picked product for accuracy.
AR eliminates this concern because the brain can process visual contexts faster than the time and attention required for audio contexts, which will encourage more companies to adopt AR in 2017, explains Tech Gistics.
What Does It Mean?
Consumers are influencing logistics tech every day. End-user purchases are creating a data trail that gives logistics providers a glimpse into the demand on the industry in the upcoming hours, days, weeks and months. Besides, consumers want better responsiveness and faster delivery times, so automation, the Internet of Things and AR are helping to make up the difference between your company and Amazon. Ultimately, your logistics tech needs to be upgraded through automation wherever possible.