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According to MTS Logistics president Sedat Saka, the past four years have seen significant changes in the world. From the COVID pandemic to the supply chain crisis, the shipping and logistics industry was exposed to disruptions and chances for innovation. With these in mind, here are six trends that are more likely to affect the industry in 2024:
The digitalization of the shipping and logistics industry was accelerated due to the COVID-19 pandemic and most jobs transitioning to remote work. Large shipping companies, as well as boutique shipping companies, have also digitized. They often implemented their software systems and tools for their customers.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) and blockchain technology are expected to develop further. These could improve real-time shipment tracking and supply chain visibility. In fact, blockchain is already being used to solve supply chain challenges.
The introduction of paperless shipping is also considered a massive move in the industry towards digitalization. Some freight forwarders are already 100% paperless as of 2023, and other companies are following suit.
Despite the unstable economic period during and after the COVID pandemic, every businessperson hopes that tough economic times are finally over. After all, there are various aspects of the economy to feel confident in, such as rising wages, reduced regulations, and inflation starting to decrease.
There are still challenges remaining, however. These include inflation not yet low enough for shippers to increase revenue and profits without increasing costs and fuel prices rising in Q3 2023.
With the looming crisis of climate change, the shipping and logistics industry has taken significant steps towards sustainability and greener business practices. Global shipping regulators have been implementing regulations like the International Maritime Organization’s “IMO 2020” rule. This requires cleaner fuel and retrofitted emissions scrubbers installed on older vessels. More action is expected to be announced by 2024.
Over the past few years, the industry has been setting up initiatives to promote zero-carbon shipping by 2050 or sooner. Several shipping companies, such as Maersk, have already started, and new ships are being built with electricity and alternative fuel sources in mind.
Last-mile delivery operations have changed dramatically over the past few years. By 2024, major US retailers will have taken over various aspects of their last-mile delivery operations. Businesses such as Walmart, Target, and Home Depot have opted to take over some operations from carriers to offer services like faster deliveries. Some have decided to offer same-day delivery options.
Due to regulations and oversight being implemented, autonomous delivery solutions can become operational as early as 2024. Major companies are exploring partnerships with new fulfillment partners, sometimes even taking on last-mile deliveries. This trend should continue throughout next year.
The pandemic has exposed some vulnerabilities in the global supply chains. Because of this, businesses are reexamining their strategies to enhance resilience and implement risk management. In addition, analytics became more critical in identifying potential risks and finding the proper responses.
In 2024, the shipping industry will likely invest more in cybersecurity to protect sensitive data, keep cargo safe from theft, and prevent cyberattacks against shipping operations. Additionally, multi-factor authentication might become the norm in the shipping and logistics industry.
The United States has invested in cybersecurity for government operations, and private sectors have followed suit on a vast scale. Shipping companies may do the same as more sensitive data is being moved into the cloud, and cyber risks have grown exponentially since the pandemic.
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