In the past decade, consumers have experienced revolutionary innovations regarding how they access products. In the age of Google and Amazon, all the products and services you could ever want are available at the click of a button. And consumers are loving it! In 2017, e-commerce sales hit $448 billion. Additionally, same and next day shipping is increasingly becoming popular as firms hop on board with e-commerce. In an age when we are focusing on efficiency and optimized supply chains, the future of shipping looks very bright.
Automation in warehousing has grown over recent years. By optimizing shipping at the warehouse or starting point, costs for the whole shipping process are dramatically reduced. Different methods for adding automation to a warehouse include selecting services or carriers based on the weight or type of package, adding insurance to parcels after they exceed a pre-set dollar value, and implementing predetermined criteria for packages that need to be reviewed by people or managers.
Drones & Self-Driving Cars
Though they haven’t been implemented yet, there is a lot of potential for shipping processes to be influenced by the use of drones or autonomous cars. Costs for shipping would quickly go down, as consumers wouldn’t have to field the costs for workers who would otherwise deliver the packages. The legality and safety of drones and autonomous cars are still being debated, but the advantages can’t be denied. It will be interesting to see how this conversation and these methods develop over time.
There has been a lot of development of the use of APIs (application program interfaces) in the shipping and logistics sphere. APIs are the glue that connect two different applications or systems, allowing the communication of vital information. Within the shipping sphere specifically, this means increased efficiency; for instance, an API could be used to have real-time tracking of parcels for consumers or even location-tracking within warehouses for suppliers. This helps to improve shipping information for consumers, but for business operations as well.
Finally, there is a future for the use of crowdsourcing within shipping as well. Crowdsourcing, or the use of the public or external agents to do or provide a good or service, has grown in popularity in recent years. Crowdsourcing can be used within shipping by utilizing the public or external agents who sign up (such as with Deliv drivers) to deliver packages in the last few miles from the supplier. This would make delivery faster—it could even be done within hours! However, this may be an expensive option, so suppliers will need to weigh the disadvantage of higher costs with the benefit of increased efficiency.
Shipping has a potential to expand to warehousing automation, drones, self-driving cars, and crowdsourcing in the next few years, with less of a focus on traditional transportation methods. This will bring in many advantages regarding optimizing existing supply chains.