Modern customer expectations have changed dramatically, especially in the logistics industry. Technology advancements mean that customers expect goods delivered faster, safer and at lower costs – all with the added ability to change deliveries last minute. Where once it was just a pipedream, free next-day delivery is now an expectation. With all these changes and a ramp-up in expectations, logistics companies must find a way to be able to adapt to the demands and deliver exceptional service for their customers. Increasing competition and the rise of small-scale disruptors in the industry means failing to do so will result in a loss of business, maybe terminally.
It is not all doom and gloom though. Thankfully, the tools exist and have existed for a while, that will allow the logistics industry to serve their customers better than ever before. Not just meeting expectations but exceeding them. The tools are data analytics, and the benefits are many.
The exponential increase in the number of data points within modern supply chains means a near-complete, real-time picture of a delivery route can be seen. Sensors on vehicles, in warehouses and even within individual packages allow for more accurate tracking and delivery prediction – all useful information to demanding consumers. This allows them to plan better for delivery, and a more reliable service is always pleasing.
The reality is that shipments will go awry, and some deliveries will be late. Being notified of this early, and in real-time allows customers time to plan and react to this, avoiding potential bottlenecks. Modern supply chains have so many influencers and inputs that being transparent with this data allows all to benefit – not only do customers get served better, but partners and suppliers have better relationships as well.
There aren’t many better ways to improve your customer’s moods than by offering them the same or better service at a lower cost. That’s an offer that’s hard to refuse. In an industry notoriously plagued by slim margins, this differentiator will separate those offering acceptable customer service from outstanding.
Automation solutions, taking advantage of large data-silos and the processing power of AI and machine learning are granting huge efficiencies all over the supply chain. Stock monitoring and route optimisations are two of the more obvious applications, as well as automated loading systems. Future developments could well see sections of the supply chain become ‘fully’ automated with very little human oversight – saving significant costs.
Slow and/or incorrect orders are good for nobody. Slow orders can impact dispatch times and late deliveries mean unhappy customers. Some companies will have agreements in place that could lead to late dispatch penalties as well so this must be avoided. Order errors are also bad for business as correcting them can cause serious delays to the supply chain and will obviously incur extra costs as well.
Taking advantage of data-learning tools like AI allows the automation of the order process – saving both time and money. Some estimates have cost savings as high as 55% and accuracy improved by over 99%. Customers will no doubt appreciate these improvements!
Data is a fundamental part of the modern logistics industry. It can be collected from almost every point along a supply chain, in real-time and in outstanding accuracy and detail. Not using this level of insight to improve services would be criminal. These insights can be used to drive efficiencies, reduce the costs of shipping and allow the customer full visibility of their delivery at the same time. This is the sort of customer relationship that will define successful logistics companies in the future.