This year has been a challenge for 3PLs and all logistics companies alike. Most of the change is the result of an improving economy which is great news. Unemployment is down while manufacturing and GDP are up. Let’s talk about what that’s meant for 2018 and how it predicts what’s to come in 2019.
A Moment in Review: The Perils and Positives of 2018
As a result of a stronger economy, everything in the industry has been transforming at a rapid pace to keep up. Technology has affected change in supply chain, data management, and online consumer spending habits. The driver shortage has been doubly impacted by the ever-quickening delivery preferences of customers. While these issues have undoubtedly thrown a few wrenches in the COGS, the industry is making lemonade out of lemons. In fact, a recent study found that “91% of surveyed shippers said that their relationships with 3PLs “generally have been successful,” with 98% of 3PLs indicating their customer relationships have generally been successful.” In short, everything is starting to come together.
Look into Our Crystal Ball: Trends for 2019
One particular area of logistics that experienced growth this last year was Less-than-truckload (LTL) shipping. LTL is poised for exponential growth well into 2019. Why? As fewer trucks are available for FTL, extra freight will be merged with LTL. Also, as small business numbers rise, so does the need for smaller freight shipping services. Finally, because LTL is so flexible and the capacity crunch doesn’t look to be ending anytime soon, LTL will be the pinch hitter for the industry.
Also, look for LTL companies to pour it on when it comes to customer service. Services we are seeing can include everything from online-based platforms to efficient last mile delivery and everything in between to delight customers and drive brand loyalty. LTL carriers know the iron is hot, so they are coming to strike.
Technology is also not slowing down anytime soon. The ELD mandate is in full-swing and a few self-driving vehicles are hitting the streets proving that innovation refuses to slow. New tech via connected devices, real-time tracking, drone delivery, and autonomous trucks are providing additional levels of transparency and opportunities to enhance the customer experience.
What 3PLs Need to Focus on in 2019
There are a lot of recommendations out there. Here are a few things we think logistics companies should be doing in 2019:
- Continue to grow LTL relationships. They are the saving grace of the shipping industry right now. They’re more flexible and scrappy and therefore and can solve a lot of shipping issues—especially the last minute ones!
- Apply smart technology. For example, drone delivery isn’t a good fit for everyone, so it’s important in this smorgasbord of tech to only integrate what makes sense for your clients and your business.
- Integrate more value-added services and transparency. At the end of the day, customer service is king. Offering clients freight visibility, forecasts, free audits, and affordable add-ons build brand loyalty and encourage customer confidence and trust.
- Analytics and Automation. Analytics continues to be one of the best ways to improve efficiencies and boost sales. Automation reduces errors and increases profit margins. Keeping both front-of-mind is a sure recipe for success.
As more 3PL’s enter the market, it’s more important than ever to partner with a company who blends experience and innovation. That’s why companies choose Langham Logistics, an industry leader specializing in first-class service. Partner with us in 2019 for your best year yet!