That’s a wrap! Parcel Forum 2022 concluded last week in Chicago, and the Zero Down team was there to capture the latest and greatest news from all around the small parcel world. While getting to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the conference in person was amazing, for those that couldn’t attend, we wanted to provide a glimpse into what executives in the industry are talking about heading into Q4. Here are five things that resonated through the presentations and conversations:
This has been a hot topic over the years, as logistics technology and network systems have evolved and gotten more sophisticated. But, with the increased bottlenecks and supply chain issues stemming from the Pandemic, as well as other current geo-political events around the world, carrier diversification was on the tip of everyone’s tongue last week.
A single-carrier portfolio simply cannot keep up with today’s demand. E-commerce and the Amazon Effect have driven customer expectations higher than ever before, with same day delivery/pickup becoming more and more the norm. Relying on one carrier leaves companies too exposed to rapidly changing market situations, whether they be supply, capacity, or weather related.
Multiple Carrier Options
To that point, multiple executives stressed that the available parcel delivery options are indeed growing. The LaserShip/OnTrac merger, as well as the growing market presence of Amazon’s own fleet, highlighted that competition is brewing for the national carriers. These other options are often eager to acquire new business, and shippers can use that to drive down pricing as well as keep their own supply chains adaptable and agile.
Innovation Is Coming
One surprising takeaway from the conference was the prediction that autonomous vehicles and drone delivery options would be in use as early as next year. With the current labor shortage cutting into transportation capacity, and the growing desire for home delivery options, these two technologies could be game changers for the industry, and dramatically increase transportation efficiencies.
And while it’s always on the back of everyone’s mind, most executives agreed that blockchain technology was still a few years out from being successfully incorporated into the supply chain landscape. The possibilities for use in shipping contracts, BOL’s, and real-time product updates are just too tantalizing to ignore though, and there’s no doubt that eventually this too will hit the market.
Supply Chain Visibility < Supply Chain Insights
Coming back to the present, there were multiple presentations on the importance of turning data into actionable insights. In many cases, technology has made transportation and shipping data readily available, but where many shippers still struggle is knowing what to do with it. Understanding how to manipulate and utilize available data points to optimize networks and contracts is the next step in market competition.
Everything Is Negotiable
The consensus leaving the conference was that the tide is finally turning when it comes to carrier negotiations. Capacity is rising heading into the Holidays, and while the national carriers are still rolling out their highest Peak Season Surcharges yet, with demand expected to remain flat due to inflation, they will be eager for new business. Strike while the iron is hot.
The supply chain industry has gone through a lot these last few years. And while it was evident that some exciting new things are right around the corner, it was also clear that some classic business stratagems still ring true:
- Plan Ahead
- Control What You Can Control
- You Get What You Can Negotiate
If you would like to learn more about the latest trends in the supply chain industry, and how you can position your business to take advantage, reach out to us today.