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E-commerce Issue: Time to break old habits

We use the March issue of Logistics Management to track the evolution of e-commerce and how this tectonic shift continues to make an impact on how we manage the new pressures of order fulfillment and freight transportation.

Industry veteran and long-time contributor Brooks Bentz kicks off the issue by gathering a group of top analysts to point out where we are across the modes in the wake of this growth.

“I don’t think I have to remind anyone that the impact on freight transportation has been profound, and it’s not restricted to any single mode,” says Bentz. “It’s clear that all the modes have been affected, and if there’s any consensus it’s that there’s no consensus across our panel on how this will unfold over the next year.”

However, Bentz contends that instead of throwing up your hands in frustration, it’s better to allow this challenging time to push you to break some old habits. “While these top sources couldn’t find agreement on what’s coming down the pike, they do believe that shippers need to make a major shift away from the traditional transportation sourcing exercises of annual bids—the concept is simply outdated in the face of market volatility.”

As Bentz suggests, it will be the savviest shippers who work to continuously evaluate service networks on their way to maintaining needed capacity at the best possible price. “Of course, doing this without decision support technology that drives access to real-time network intelligence and performance analytics is akin to fighting a forest fire with a garden hose,” he says. “With that in mind, the constant assessment of new technologies is a great new habit to start.”

And those themes of assessing new opportunities and breaking old habits also run through our 2022 Parcel Express Roundtable that was recently conducted by group news editor Jeff Berman. Starting on page 28, he offers a comprehensive snapshot of the parcel and last-mile sectors through the insight of three leading sector analysts.

“It’s quite clear that service providers and carriers have the upper hand over shippers,” says Berman. “So, our panel suggests that shippers certainly need to stay in sync with their long-term, preferred carriers, but also leave no stone unturned when it comes to leveraging new options—especially because a big piece of contingency planning may very well mean adding new strategic partners to the mix.”

While the parcel sector may be seeing some of the most exciting expansion due to continued e-commerce growth, the providers of warehouse/DC software and automation are witnessing a boom as well—and for good reason.

Editor at large Roberto Michel dives into the findings of the “2022 Warehouse/DC Equipment Survey,” our annual reader study that reveals the economy’s effect on current warehouse/DC equipment, technology and software buying decisions. “We found much less hesitancy from respondents this year. It looks like it’s ‘go time’ for investment in warehouse and DC automation,” he says.

Bottom line: This year, 36% said that they’re going forward with investments, up from 28% last year. In fact, the average anticipated spending on automation for 2022 came in at $459,316—well above last year’s average anticipated spend of $306,990.

“This progressive move toward more automation and robotics makes sense because we’re seeing the economy stay fairly strong, a shallow labor pool, and e-commerce going through the roof all at the same time—factors that have operations scrambling to keep up,” adds Michel.

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About the Author

Michael Levans's avatar
Michael Levans
Michael Levans is Group Editorial Director of Peerless Media’s Supply Chain Group of publications and websites including Logistics Management, Supply Chain Management Review, Modern Materials Handling, and Material Handling Product News. He’s a 23-year publishing veteran who started out at the Pittsburgh Press as a business reporter and has spent the last 17 years in the business-to-business press. He's been covering the logistics and supply chain markets for the past seven years.
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