Recently, 3PL Central had the honor of sponsoring the annual state of third-party logistics (3PL) report. The report identified key trends and movements within the industry, and the top 3PL 2020 trends include 3PLs leveraging technology and software as a service (SaaS) models to enable continuous growth. The top 3PL 2020 trends include a major prediction to achieve a balance between shippers and carriers, and as 86% of US shoppers rely on at least two channels for their purchases, opportunities within the 3PL industry must reflect the changes and requirements of e-commerce. To achieve this feat, shippers need to start thinking about deploying the top 3PL 2020 trends as they relate to technology and services.
Connected technologies will continue to redefine the standards for 3PL 2020 trends. It is no longer enough to simply offer competitive pricing for shippers. Carriers realize the real potential in moving freight, as well as 3PLs in this instance, lies within the use of analytics. With more data flowing through the supply chain, the opportunities for improvement and gains within analytics are significant. Of course, analytics engines require extensive resources, advanced business algorithms, artificial intelligence, and machine learning to succeed.
Advanced technologies and services within the top 3PL 2020 trends, must include a mention of the evolution and potential of blockchain, the internet of things, artificial intelligence, and machine learning. As these technologies’ potential grows, more 3PLs will look to deploy new systems and capabilities that leverage these advanced technologies. In other words, more technology within the supply chain will enable massive gains in productivity and efficiency. According to iTexico:
“For AI to make a positive impact, it should be integrated with other technologies. For instance, self-driven vehicles might not make much sense without IoT working with AI. The IoT activates and regulates the sensors in the car that collect real-time data, whereas the AI models are what the vehicle needs for decision making. Likewise, Blockchain can work closely with AI to address security, scalability, and trust issues.”
Of course, the notion of self-driving freight trucks remains a unique trend as well.
Autonomous trucks have remained a primary trend identified in recent years’ articles at Cerasis. According to Bernard Marr of Forbes, trucking technology developers are expected to further undergo maturity in 2020. The industry expects big changes to the laws governing the use of autonomous trucks, improvements to existing infrastructure, and the changing perception that autonomous driver vehicles are the more effective and safer solution. The idea of autonomous trucking is the most advanced and comprehensive opportunity to radically scale the supply chain and meet changing demands. Unfortunately, autonomous trucks are still in development, and 2020 shows no signs of bringing autonomous trucking to the masses. At least not in the perception that the media makes it appear. So trucking companies and 3PLs still need to focus on meaningful, realistic improvements through available technology, such as a TMS, to help drivers and managers better manage freight.
The introduction of siloed services by 3PLs has been among the top 3PL trends for all years passed. That expectation was on track to continue for the 3PL 2020 trends. However, the trends unique to 2020 naturally imply that connectivity between systems will replace the age-old standards powering 3PL services. This is especially true among the 3PL services that are typically categorized as a 4PL, such as accounting and auditing software. Instead of offering these services as standalone systems, more 3PLs will look to leverage integration to build the value-added services within their fundamental workflows and software. Yes, integrated services will probably replace traditional siloed services and require shippers to further leverage the potential of available 3PL partnerships to maximize efficiency, productivity, and profitability. Consider this; integrated picking, packing, and shipping software reduces the costs and eliminates the lost time and inevitable errors with manual input.
The new technologies and services of 2020 have a common theme. They all seek to provide more visibility, proactive management, and better profitability for all TMS users throughout 2020. For customers, the effects include better customer service, faster shipping, seamless shopping experiences, and major gains in public trust and loyalty to certain brands. To maintain success, shippers need to start thinking about how their operations will benefit from the top 3PL 2020 trends and how 3PL innovations will enable competitive advantage.
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