2019 new year

The top logistics trends for 2019

14 January 2019

As we enter another year, I’m delighted once again to bring you my top logistics trends’ for 2019; looking at what you need to keep track of in the year ahead. While it’s sad to say that drones still aren’t the #1 delivery method, and there are still no pipes to propel web purchases into homes, 2018 HAS been a very exciting year and 2019 is already proving to be one of the most interesting, and perhaps disruptive, years for logistics in a very long time.

As we always do at this time of year, I’ve compiled the thoughts and insights from all the experts across Team Carousel to help you keep abreast of what’s coming up and what you need to do to prepare.

Focusing on the trends that really will come to fruition next year, here’s what you need to know:

Logistics Trend #1 The impact of the sharing economy on supply chain

It’s fair to say that the sharing economy – expertly demonstrated by the likes of big-brands Uber, Kickstarter and AirBnB – has transformed the way in which services are manufactured, sold and distributed forever. Speeding-up processes, removing unnecessary steps and again, putting customers at the heart of the equation, has all led to a direct impact on the way our supply chains are evolving.

One key output of the sharing economy is that the ‘point-to-point’ supply chain is old news. That’s because the delivery stage no longer means the end, but instead, it’s just one part of your supply chain. The sharing economy is heavily interwoven into circular – or ‘close-loop’ – supply chain strategies, and as a result, the need for organisations to focus on garnering resource efficiencies and ‘delighting’ the customer at every stage is now far greater. The reverse leg of the journey is now as critical as the delivery stage and in turn, raises the importance of digitization for organisations in 2019 (more about that on the blog soon). After all, without a digital supply chain, where complete visibility and control is paramount, it will be almost impossible to coordinate time-critical parts and products, in real time as customers now expect.

It needn’t be a daunting prospect though. The idea of a circular supply chain is an exciting concept. After all, it has the potential to make businesses operate smarter and more collaboratively – while discovering new opportunities for gaining competitive advantage. While it won’t completely take the place of the global supply chain, it’s important for organisations to acknowledge that the mindset towards expansion is changing and technology is at the heart of it. Those that refuse to respond to this change however – or fail invest in the required technology - may find themselves playing a losing game.

Logistics Trend #2 Supply chain risk management
Following the rise of the sharing economy, it’s fair to say that customer demands are getting ever-more complex, with the need to meet them ever-rising. Combined with the lingering uncertainty over Brexit, plus some notable security breaches in 2018, risk is something that should be high on the agenda of every organisation next year.

Anyone with a complex supply chain will rely upon the coordinated flow of information, so the first step in responding to risk is to complete some extensive scenario planning. It’s true that to do this successfully requires the right expertise and experience, but it’s an investment that’s worth making because of the potential losses that can be caused by unexpected events.

The number one way of responding to many of these scenarios is to move to a smart supply chain. Only with a comprehensive end-to-end logistics platform, that is fully customisable and scalable, can organisations grow at pace, while also mitigating supply chain risk. Plus, by embracing data with on demand reporting, they will not only have full visibility and control to resolve issues (as and when they do arise), but also the ability to predict issues and avoid risk all together by harnessing all the data-potential within an organisation. This predictive element really comes into play particularly when you consider Maintenance, Repair & Operations, which together, is sometimes called ‘preventative maintenance’.

By using sensors, data about the operation of the equipment and its well-being can be collected constantly. Then, with the help of the Internet of Things (IoT) to connect all the data sources, plus some analytics to make sense of the data, maintenance can be performed when and where it is needed. It’s an innovative way that can really minimise downtime and maximise equipment efficiency.

2019 is already proving to be one of the most interesting, and perhaps disruptive, years for logistics in a very long time...

Logistics Trend #3 Changes with international trade
When it comes to international trade, there really is only one thing on everyone’s mind at the moment, which is why it’s made our list of top trends for 2019. So, let’s talk about Brexit.

More will become clear, of course, after the Commons Vote this week (correct at the time of publishing) but it’s fair to say that whatever the outcome, it will have a huge impact on international trade.

In terms of preparations, the findings of Carousel’s most recent white paper shows that the majority of businesses are focusing their attention on getting raw materials and goods across the UK border quickly. A priority yes, but what is perhaps more important to take from these findings is how maintaining customer loyalty did not factor as a top three priority for UK or German organisations. While outstanding customer experience relies upon a robust and consistent service, it is also vital to remember that the needs of the customer can’t be forgotten along the way.

Despite the uncertainty however, there are things that you can be doing to prepare. For instance: nominating a dedicated Brexit contact, reviewing current supply chain routes and processes and seeking advice from your logistics provider. If you haven’t started your preparations to-date, it really is never too late to begin.

Logistics Trend #4 Maintaining customer loyalty
Maintaining customer loyalty is an important priority for all brands next year – as pointed out above – and one that could seriously be at risk because of Brexit.
Omnichannel is a trend that’s been around for a while now, but it’s now evolving into version 2.0 which has means brands and supply chain leaders must now increase proficiency across all channels to work together, more closely, for the ultimate buying and delivery experience.

Technology again, will be key to all of this.

In bringing together the complex network of channels successfully, brands will need to find more adaptable logistics systems that can bring their customer-centric strategy to fruition. Getting there will not be easy, but by implementing small changes - focused on improving profitability and meeting ever-growing customer demands - it is achievable. Competitive advantage is likely to be lost for those that ignore this trend, while those that get on board, will look to achieve more flexible fulfilment options, plus improved inventory management.

Final thoughts
Perhaps unsurprisingly, what my 2018 round-up points towards again is a huge focus on investment in technology for organisations in 2019. While it was positive this year to see an increased interest within the sector for innovative technologies and new ways of working (Barclay Moore Stephens October 2018 Report), there is still more to be done. When deployed in the right way, operators and organisations alike will be able to utilise technology to streamline processes and improve productivity; two very important factors when it comes to addressing the above four trends.

As a company that prides itself on delivering exceptional services to its clients, our priority next year is to ensure we meet and exceed expectations at every stage of the service we provide. In response to the above trends, we’ve already invested heavily in our own service and technology platform, Gateway, to give our clients full visibility across their entire network, maintaining the smooth flow of parts, products and information no matter what happens.

Our rapidly-expanding European operations, partner network and product portfolio makes Carousel well-placed to manage the outcome of Brexit – whatever happens – while our range of online Brexit resources are ready, and waiting, to help any organisation struggling to get prepared for any potential changes in international trade.

For more information, or to speak to an expert, please contact us by clicking the button below.

A picture of Tim Deniz
Tim Deniz

Head of European Client Development