Sales and Fulfillment
3PL trends to watch in 2021 and beyond
With stores and businesses experiencing close-to-negligible foot traffic in the past year-and-a-half, e-commerce sales shot through the roof with an estimated increase of 45% in 2020, compared with 2019. This figure has only ballooned in 2021 due to a fresh set of restrictions and a new strain of COVID-19.
And, while innovative and future-ready businesses managed to seize this opportunity to record unprecedented growth, others have struggled because of operational challenges or lack of expertise.
This rapid growth has caused utter chaos across industries, supply chains, and logistical networks, underlining the importance of the third-party logistics (3PL) management industry. Here’s looking at some of the most significant retail logistics trends that are evolving.
Latest 3PL industry trends in retail logistics
Supply chain distress, inventory management, logistical coordination, cost cutting, and warehousing are pertinent 3PL challenges for all businesses, especially during the pandemic and the post-pandemic era.
Some of the top new retail logistics trends include:
Micro warehousing and inventory distribution
Automated storage and retrieval systems
Greener supply chains
One of the trends that is fast catching up is that companies are dedicating several micro warehouses for various types of deliveries and accordingly distributing the inventory to these warehouses. This speeds up same-day or next-day delivery options, ensuring better access to customers in urban areas.
To reduce the upfront investments or capital required for traditional fulfilment, organisations are now exploring the concept of crowdsourcing fulfilment. It involves allying with companies that can take responsibility for the last step in the supply chain (delivery). But factors such as visibility, reliability, and quality control could prove to be major hurdles in this regard.
In areas such as routing, inventory management, and warehousing, the influx of new technologies and automation are making storage and retrieval systems more efficient. The goal is to automate the organisation wherein all the processes and functions connect with each other and meet strategic objectives.
The latest trend in retail logistics is the smart optimisation of processes to incorporate environmentally friendly practices in daily operations.
The recent 3PL industry growth
So, why is the 3PL industry growing so rapidly? It can be attributed to the after-effects of the pandemic, along with the rapid explosion of e-commerce.
Today’s digitally-empowered customers demand accelerated deliveries (same day or next day, preferably), which has caused organisations to navigate the new normal by ramping up their operations and investing in innovative solutions that can help fast-track order fulfilment.
The inability of businesses to control and transform their supply chain operations internally has also highlighted the importance of 3PL service providers. Additionally, the concept of 3PL ensures cost savings, which continues to be a top priority for all businesses.
What characteristics make a great 3PL service provider?
3PL service providers need to be like a Live Enterprise - networked, connected, and hyper productive, as well as respond to a rapidly changing environment and deliver anytime/anywhere experience. Apart from the main services offered by 3PL service providers, here’s what differentiates the good ones from the exceptional ones:
- Ability to offer end-to-end visibility
- Integration of IoT within the supply chain
- Optimum usage of data analytics and integration of smart technologies
- Focus on automation to eliminate redundancy in supply chain processes
- Emphasis on sustainability and greener supply chains
Learn how Infosys BPM can help you navigate the next
Innovation and cutting-edge technologies are changing logistics operations dramatically. Currently, 60% of 3PL service providers use technology and 65% are particularly interested in blockchain to create retail visibility.
Here is where Infosys BPM steps in to boost your supply chain operations. With a range of BPM services for 3PLs, we ensure the following benefits:
- Cost efficiency
- Process excellence
- Scalability and reach
- Enhanced customer experience
- Better visibility
- Greater flexibility
Tap into our services that include ops and fulfilment support, customer service, sales and marketing support, optimisation and benchmarking, compliance management, procurement, finance and accounting, analytics, and reporting.