The way the e-commerce explosion over the past several years has reshaped the logistics industry cannot be understated, and many companies within the sector are still working to play catch-up given how quickly technology and expert-recommended best practices still evolve. With this in mind, it's important for decision-makers working in the industry to keep careful stock of how the landscape continues to shift as demand for faster turnaround times and greater operational efficiency move in concert.
Perhaps the biggest issue related to the way delivery expectations are changing is the integration of cutting-edge technology into long-standing practices, according to Supply and Demand Chain Executive. Specifically, many experts recommend updating a company's warehouse management software, as many logistics operations have likely been using their current platforms for years or even decades, and been forced over time to upgrade certain aspects of those systems on a piecemeal basis.
The problem with the piecemeal basis is that these systems can get bogged down and operate more slowly than they otherwise should, but new platforms integrate many of the same features legacy WMS incorporates, the report said. This may be particularly important for companies that handle irregular or uncommon products that need to be shipped out, and adapting to the point of being able to integrate devices that work over the internet of things could give firms greater control over their operations.
However, when even considering the step to adopt new WMS, some companies may balk because they're unsure of whether the testing and integration process will set them back, according to Multichannel Merchant. While this may be understandable on some level, it's also something companies necessarily must overcome to fully move into the 21st century and get themselves ready for the future of the industry, which in many ways is already here. Luckily, there are a number of steps that can be taken ahead of time which can grease the skids and make the integration process go as smoothly as possible.
A changing industry
Indeed, the growth of the IoT in particular seems to be what will drive the logistics industry forward in the years ahead, and the market for doing so will likely grow significantly, according to Technavio. By 2021, it's expected the global market for IoT-enabled devices for warehouse management will increase by more than 33 percent. That can potentially make the entire industry run more efficiently in terms of everything consumer-facing picking and packing to delivery, to more behind-the-scenes issues like inventory and workforce management (including improved mobile data collection). While a lot of these improvements may seem invisible or incremental, the benefit they bring to adoptees in terms of operational efficiency likely cannot be understated, particularly for companies that haven't upgraded their legacy WMS in a long time.
Of course, it's important to look before leaping into a new WMS system, and the more executives can do to ensure a smooth transition, the better off their companies are likely to be as they move to embrace the future.