Logistics is one of the world’s largest industries, with worldwide revenues estimated at $4.7 trillion in 2016 according to Plunkett Research. It is also a major contributor to the global economic activity at 6%. However, firms across the industry are relentlessly focused on surviving the growing competition. Moreover, as customer expectations evolve and digitization takes place, the logistics industry is facing immense change which could either pose as a risk or an opportunity.

Four Disrupting Factors Shaking the Logistics Industry

According to PwC’s ‘Shifting Patterns: The Future of the Logistics Industry’, logistics companies need to focus on the following four key areas of disruption to be ready for future challenges.

1) Changing Customer Expectations

Individual and industrial customers alike have high expectations from logistics organizations. According to surveys, they value receiving shipments quickly, more flexibly, with added transparency, and at a low price. As a result, customers are likely to be less loyal to a specific company.

This, however, puts a lot of strain on operating models and profitability. The 2017 PwC Global Operations Survey revealed 61% of operations leaders believe changing directions to be difficult. Most companies also realize failing to meet customer expectations today will put them on the losing side tomorrow.

2) Technological Breakthroughs

Only firms considered ‘digitally fit’ will be able to withstand the competition. Being ‘digitally fit’ means having the capabilities to successfully keep up with the changes in the digital world. Unfortunately, many logistics firms struggle to meet the challenges of going digital. PwC’s Industry 4.0 study revealed only 28% rate themselves as ‘advanced’. As a result, many logistics companies miss out on the opportunity to improve their performance.

3) New Entrants to the Industry

Start-ups make up a majority of the new entrants to the logistics sector. These businesses use new technology and business models to gain an edge over the competition. For instance, a majority are considered ‘asset light’. As a result, they can offer competitive freight rates or match shippers with available capacity. This puts traditional logistics companies at a disadvantage.

Start-ups aside, major players from other industries are entering the logistics industry. Crowd-sharing platforms such as Uber have launched services such as UberCARGO van service in Hong Kong to test the waters. The logistics industry’s own customers are also claiming their share. For instance, Amazon has been improving its in-house warehousing expertise and developing its own delivery capabilities. This will help the company and others following its lead to achieve efficiencies in order fulfillment.

4) Redefining Collaboration

Horizontal collaboration, especially in last-mile delivery, is already happening. However, fragmentation, accountability, and lack of consistency are some of the issues which hamper collaboration. Firms tend to be wary while collaborating, especially with their competitors. This causes them to miss out on 10-30% increase in efficiency, which translates to 100-300 billion in cost savings.

Logistics firms should also be open to other new types of collaboration. The less radical methods include sharing fleets and networks, establishing agreements to utilize commercial carriers, and code-sharing. On the other hand, logistics companies can opt for M&A, joint ventures, or alliances to achieve collaboration.

How Mobile Forms Can Keep Logistics Firms Ahead in the Future

Mobile devices are an important part of the logistics industry, especially in warehouses and distribution centers. Unfortunately, they aren’t yet used to their full potential. Arlington Research’s seven-nation study of 1300 CEOs revealed –

  • 70% of CEOs still don’t comprehend the need for handheld devices on the field and their role in the delivery of services.
  • 31% of business is failing to invest in mobile technology to gain an edge over the competition.

Interestingly, 49% of workers shared that mobility downtime affects their ability to work. Of these, 18% said they “suffer” through outages for long periods of time.

Therefore, for 2018, logistics companies need to seriously consider the adoption of mobility solutions. In addition to enterprise mobile apps, mobile forms need to be part of business mobility strategy as they help overcome the effects of the Four Disrupting Factors highlighted by PwC. Here’s how.

Mobile Forms Enable Quick and Relevant Data Collection

Mobile forms allow logistics companies to quickly collect important data such as fuel consumption and the current location of a shipment. This data is then securely stored in the enterprise’s business systems, or sent to analytics tools to calculate metrics such as driving time and mileage.

With these metrics in hand, logistics companies can meet some of their customer expectations.  For starters, they can communicate customers’ shipment data in real time. Companies can also use metrics to identify costly performance and productive gaps. That way, they can eliminate them and lower the costs quoted to customers.

Mobile Forms Revolutionize Businesses

Mobile forms are the next logical step after enterprise mobile apps. They complement apps by reducing dependency on paper forms and automate manual processes such as data entry. As they offer employees great ease while entering data, they enhance their productivity and improve the overall working environment. These two advantages are vital for today’s logistics companies as acquiring and retaining talent is one of the top challenges in the industry.

Mobile Forms Allow Seamless, Real-Time Collaboration

Mobilized forms have the power to ensure transparency, honest communication, and commitment to true partnerships. Unlike paper forms, they can’t be tampered with or easily altered. Adding eSignature panels and enabling time and geo stamping on forms further enhances accountability. With these measures, logistics companies will have fewer risks to worry about when partnering with other industry members.

Mobile forms are especially beneficial during last-mile delivery. They replace a long list of paper forms, starting from schedules to dispatch orders. As a result, they enhance the productivity of drivers since they no longer need to wrangle paper forms and fill them. In turn, this reduces the time needed to complete a delivery as well as the costs associated with it.

The Bottom Line

Transforming logistics firms by replacing paper forms with mobile forms will deliver real business value. As a result, companies will be able to face the challenges coming their way in the next five years. This, in turn, will allow them to ensure safe, on-time delivery, provide better service, and further establish their brands in the industry.