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Technology's Effect on Logistics: Is it for the Worse?

Technology is constantly changing, and with it, the logistics industry is evolving before our eyes.

In the logistics industry, technology is a driving force. It is no doubt due to technological advancements that online shopping, as well as shipping and delivering online orders, have experienced exponential growth in recent years. As a result of ever-changing customer expectations, though, it's not surprising that there have been some growing pains too.


Transportation, the internet of things, cybersecurity, and supply chain management are all technologies that impact logistics. That technology influences shipping processes, mobility, warehousing, security, and the stability of supply chains. Technology is tightly embedded in the success of the logistics industry as a whole. According to Gartner, 61% of respondents say that technology is a course of competitive advantage. However, some of the effects, like expensive set-up costs and learning curves of new technology, can lead to loss of employee morale (in some cases even loss of employment), which can result in big disruptions.


Consequently, one question remains - Does technology enhance or detract from logistics? 


As mentioned above, implementing innovative technology in the logistics industry can save time and money in the long run, but it can be a costly undertaking upfront. It is, therefore, crucial to determine which technologies are appropriate for your business and which technologies are not. With the right technology, everyone’s lives get easier, from the supply chain manager to the delivery driver to the customer. 


In light of this, here are four ways that advanced technologies are transforming the logistics industry, and why you may find them useful:


Last-mile Delivery 

The volume for last-mile delivery is rising, especially during peak season. Order demand, delivery processing, and inventory are all issues that logistics providers need to deal with in terms of time, accuracy, and transparency. Consumers want a clear understanding of when and where, and even how their purchases will arrive. In fact, research from Verte reveals that consumers rate tracking packages from shipment to delivery as the most valuable feature when ordering online. This is based on 20% of consumers tracking multiple times a day. Sustainable and practical last-mile delivery must be achieved to align with customer expectations and technology like autonomous and electric ground vehicles help with efficiency and cost. In the era of recent technological advancements, some companies are looking to replace truck deliveries with drones and self-driving cars in an effort to reduce congestion and increase convenience. By not relying on people, orders can be moved directly from the warehouse to the point of delivery without stopping, reducing the labor cost of drivers significantly and enhancing safety and efficiency. It is likely that this will eventually result in less demand for commercial drivers, but ground delivery is not going away just yet. Instead, ensure that last-mile deliveries are made as quickly as possible by avoiding congestion with navigation and routing tools.


Integration of Communication Platforms

A logistics strategy cannot be successful without effective communication. Your company's reputation can be enhanced by being transparent and the use of technology facilitates open and rapid communication. An integral part of communication is the integration of multiple platforms. Viewing all information that customers demand, like tracking, all in one platform, satisfies their need for speed and convenience. By establishing transparency and sharing data, technologies such as augmented reality and artificial intelligence have been developed within logistic strategies to provide visibility throughout the entire supply chain. Additionally, security is a key part of integration across multiple platforms, and there is a strong focus on technology that builds cybersecurity that will protect both businesses and their customers. Optimizing cloud-based security systems and technology allows logistics to streamline packaging and order shipment while also protecting from fraud.


Warehouse Systems

It is extremely important to maintain inventory levels through tracking, tracing, and inventory control. This keeps the supply chain well adjusted as companies are aware of when to replenish stock, fulfill orders and give accurate accounts of arrival times. Warehouse automation can improve productivity, speed, and efficiency by removing human error. By 2026, 75% of large enterprises will have adopted some kind of smart robot within their warehouse operations to help with logistics, reports Gartner. Depending on the model, robots can perform 300 or 500 picking operations per hour, compared to 100 picking operations per hour from humans. Yet, like with most new technologies, there are limits to automation and robotization, and machines and robots can be most effective when they work harmoniously alongside humans. To reduce shipping time and costs and to combat labor shortages, warehouse automation technology coordinates with workers to improve pickers, shippers, and packers. 


Shipping Solution API

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to technology and logistics. That’s why a shipping solution with a flexible API and customizable features is technology your business should invest in (although we may be *a little* biased). Optimizing unique business needs is what DesktopShipper, an e-commerce shipping solution, does best. A shipping solution has all the parts you need to spend less time and cut the costs of shipping. The primary purpose of a shipping solution is to automate all fulfillment operations and manage orders, shipping costs, and even track communication. A good shipping solution automates order processing, eliminating much of the manual effort required to print labels and get orders out the door through automation. DesktopShipper’s technology has the ability to real-time rate shop your favorite carriers based on your carrier discounts. Set business rules and map orders based on what your customers care about, such as delivery time or cost. 

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With labor constraints, technology opens the doors for more agile and flexible businesses to emerge. Technology that helps improve human decision-making will be at the forefront of innovation in the next few years as it is the people who set the expectations for the industry. Consequently, logistics companies must evaluate the risks and opportunities of this transformation in order to seek a balance between disruptions for positive change and disruptions that could negatively impact the industry. Technology is built for the people, and people must understand how to interpret the data in front of them and act on it. Technology is constantly changing, and with it, the logistics industry is evolving before our eyes.

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