Future of Shipping and Logistics

Author: Jamal Talha
Published In: 2024/06/ 8

The advancement of technology is redefining boundaries and reshaping how the world conducts business.

Today, we’ve grown accustomed to everything being available online and instantly accessible. Amazon, the pioneer of lightning-fast delivery, makes it possible to receive a shipment within an hour of ordering, depending on your location.

Improved technology has increased supply chain productivity by reducing costs and errors. These advancements assist every logistics industry sector, including trucking, international transportation (by sea and air), supply chain management, and cargo monitoring.

Between 2014 and 2019, online shopping increased by more than 150%. Naturally, with the addition of Covid-19, internet sales have increased even more.

Table of Contents

1. The Logistics Industry’s Future
2. Digitization
3. Automation
4. Brands are revisiting their shipping strategies
5. AI and Autonomous Logistics
6. Logistics – Supply Chains Powered by Innovative Technologies
7. Logistics on Multiple Channels
8. Sustainability Efforts in Shipping Logistics
9. How to overcome shipping challenges in 2021

Future of Shipping and Logistics | 1

The Logistics Industry’s Future

The COVID-19 epidemic severely interrupted business supply lines, as governments blocked ports and factories. Even now, lockdowns continue to cause delays off the coastlines of major cities worldwide.

As a result, businesses are reevaluating their supply chains and, in some circumstances, relocating operations closer to home, adopting new technology, and hiring people to reinvent themselves.

Despite this, supply chain concerns continue to plague the middle market.

Nearly 30% of respondents to a recent ACG study identified inventory or raw material shipment delays or cancellations as the most significant supply chain difficulty they faced during the last 18 months.

Numerous supply chain challenges resulted from the disruption of international trade when factories and ports closed in 2020.

Now that the economy has recovered, businesses in the United States are awaiting goods that could take several more months to arrive.

Businesses that rely on international suppliers are confronted with increased container prices.

According to July research from London-based Drewry Shipping Consultants Ltd, the average cost of shipping a conventional 40-foot container internationally has more than quadrupled to $8,399 since 2020.

Future of Shipping and Logistics | 2


Although the epidemic necessitated a heavy reliance on technology, specific transportation processes have been digitizing for several years.

Ships require specific papers to dock at ports and access regions to traverse their routes. While electronic copies of such documents are available, many shippers continue to use paper.

The marine sector is one of the few major worldwide industries that still manages operations through complex paper-based systems.

Electronic creation, approval, distribution, and tracking of documents such as the bill of lading will help ships, buyers, sellers, and port staff.

Additional components of regular shipping operations, such as computerized pre-arrival processing, customs applications, and electronic payments, are expected to become the standard.

Given that shipping has historically been conducted using restricted digital systems, a trend toward complete digitization must be accompanied by implementing comprehensive cybersecurity measures.

Cyber attacks are growing more prevalent globally, and major market participants are far from immune.

Maersk, one of the world’s largest shipping firms, was the target of a cyberattack in 2017 that cost the company around $300 million.


The maritime industry has been slower than many other significant businesses to integrate automation with digitization.

However, McKinsey indicated in a recent survey that key practitioners from some of the world’s largest ports and shipping businesses expect at least semi-automation to play a role in greenfield projects over the next few years.

50% predict that at least half of the world’s major 50 ports will employ automated technologies during the next five years.

Automated ports are already in operation, safer, and perform more predictably. However, the financial investment necessary to construct them is substantial, and automating a port requires implementing new processes.

This means that it may be many years before large shipping businesses and ports adopt significant automation.

Future of Shipping and Logistics | 3

Brands are revisiting their shipping strategies

While technological innovation has transformed the industry, production and distribution remain primarily reliant on human labor. When demand increased, waves of layoffs in production due to lockdowns resulted in labor shortages.

For instance, many employees from industrial hubs to rural areas occurred, which was not be quickly reversed in Vietnam.

AI and Autonomous Logistics

Artificial intelligence has long held significant potential for the logistics business since they enable carriers to design more efficient operations, collect data more efficiently, and avoid downtime.

Thus, the latest warehouse robots are already sufficiently sensitive to be utilized alongside human workers in a logistics center without risking their safety.

Robots will potentially play an important role in the future supply chain when loading and unloading delivery trucks.

  • Self-driving delivery vehicles can operate 24 hours a day, even in inclement weather, without the need for drivers to take breaks—and, on top of that, they can save fuel thanks to their autonomous driving mode.
  • Self-driving forklift trucks could also be used for heavy-duty warehouse jobs.

However, these technologies are not mature enough at the moment—much like the legal framework for self-driving automobiles.

Future of Shipping and Logistics | 4

Logistics – Supply Chains Powered by Innovative Technologies

In the Internet of things, any object can communicate with another object via the network, transmit data about its state, and trigger a response in another device. This also creates previously unimagined opportunities in logistics:

  • All objects in networked warehouses transmit information about their present state and location.
  • Intelligent delivery technologies collect incredibly accurate information about a parcel’s delivery status.
  • Smart refrigerators can place eCommerce orders on behalf of consumers.

The innovative technology was the focus of several presentations at the transport logistic conference:

AutoID technologies‘ contribution to the digitalization of (transport) logistics processes
Blockchains: The Future of Logistics Cyber security threats and protection solutions in the transportation and logistics industries

Logistics on Multiple Channels

The transportation infrastructure is a significant source of contention in the logistics industry. All industries rely on a reliable road network, yet Germany has failed to pursue a forward-thinking traffic policy for decades.

Road development and traffic congestion affect large industries such as construction, automotive, and consumer products, including several textiles, furniture, and food firms.

When it comes to resolving this issue, multichannel logistics is critical. By strengthening our position and diversifying our distribution logistics channels, we can lower the risk of delays and stabilize our logistical processes.

Experts explored multichannel logistics in the following transport logistic presentations:

  • Innovation rather than stagnation in Brenner transit—commercially viable, practical ideas for future combined transport railways! What may be accomplished with the Rail Freight Masterplan.
  • Changes in the structure and digitalization of container transport in European seaports: implications for inland traffic and terminals.

Sustainability Efforts in Shipping Logistics

Shipping’s Environmental Impacts

According to one research evaluating greenhouse gas emissions, the shipping industry’s present growth rates might produce up to 10% of global emissions by 2050.

Increases in greenhouse gases in the environment have been shown to alter the climate’s makeup. This results in the following, according to the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA):

  • Warming of the planet
  • Temperature changes in the surface air and ocean
  • Precipitation and sea-level changes
  • Increased danger for individuals and structures in climate-vulnerable zones

Any one of these factors is cause for alarm. With an out-of-balance climate, the world suffers natural disasters and obstacles that impede vulnerable people’s access to resources. Climate change is almost sure to result in severe humanitarian problems.

Sustainability Efforts

Numerous large firms are implementing sustainability initiatives. Industry leaders with more assets to leverage have more leeway to experiment with sustainable methods, resulting in supply chain sustainability innovations from the top down.

Businesses can reduce their carbon footprint by modifying their transportation and production methods in the following ways:

  • Locally-sourced materials
  • Longevity in product design
  • Increasing the efficiency of supply routes
  • Increasing the utilization of recyclable materials

Integrating technology to assess and plan for sustainability is critical to these efforts. Food supply chains are renowned for contributing to food waste in the food sector. The use of technology can decrease such waste.

For instance, Walmart implemented Eden’s machine learning system to assess food quality and automatically transport ripening commodities to neighboring areas. The corporation has already saved $86 million by implementing this technique, reducing food waste.

Similarly, Campbell’s—the soup company—has demonstrated a commitment to sustainability by utilizing digital supply chain technologies throughout the supply chain, from suppliers to customers. This method embodies the possibility of a more environmentally friendly future in freight.

Campbell’s aids its suppliers in managing their land and agricultural resources more efficiently, resulting in higher crop yields. Campbell’s then uses those same technologies to optimize routes for vehicles more heavily packed with freight. This results in fewer trucks on the road, lowering greenhouse gas emissions.

Future of Shipping and Logistics | 5

With broad sustainability efforts on the part of prominent manufacturers, we may witness a shift in the environmental impact of shipping. Analytics tools enable shipping logistics managers to make more informed decisions.

Real progress toward a sustainable future is feasible with a focused strategy.

How to overcome shipping challenges in 2021

With growing fuel prices, driver shortages, and a push by governments and society for enhanced automation and sustainability, transportation and logistics will continue to face significant challenges in 2022.

Here are a few tips to overcome such challenges:

Comparing carriers and service standards in one location can help you save money on shipping.

The carrier ecosystem is broad, and it can be challenging to evaluate which solutions best fit your demands and those of your customers while also protecting your bottom line.

Solutions that enable you to search for and compare rates across an extensive network of carriers provide real-time visibility into the entire ecosystem.

By evaluating carriers and rates in one location, you can rapidly uncover the most cost-effective and consumer-friendly shipping alternatives for all your ecommerce shipments – and even switch them on the fly.

For instance, Whiplash’s integration with Shippo enables merchants to choose the ‘lowest rate’ option for shipping their orders in the backend. Shippo Shippoobtains the best rates in real-time from carriers such as USPS, FedEx, and DHL for optimal speed and cost.

Automate manual processes to eliminate human error and improve the efficiency of shipping operations

Not only can manual repeated processes impede operations, but they also introduce the possibility of costly errors. Determine where you can automate processes to increase the speed and reliability of operations.

One possible approach is to employ shipping automation rules, which automatically apply your most frequently used carrier and service-level preferences as defaults or “if-then” rules, allowing you to print labels and send shipments 50% faster.

Merchants who use the Whiplash platform can configure so-called ‘routing’ rules on their accounts that alter regular shipping rules when particular orders’ conditions are met.

For instance, you may specify that all orders shipping to a particular state must utilize a given carrier or that all orders containing a particular SKU must ship by ground (essential for some hazmat goods).

This significantly reduces the labor intensity of shipment management.

Future of Shipping and Logistics | 6

Integrate ecommerce workflows to create a more consistent end-to-end experience.

By integrating touchpoints across your ecommerce experience, you can ensure that end-to-end operations, from order and inventory management to fulfillment and refunds, are fully connected and functioning smoothly.

For instance, by integrating your ecommerce platform and order management system with a robust shipping solution, you can optimize your fulfillment process and speed up getting orders out the door and to your consumers.

If you’re considering digitally transforming your ecommerce firm, an excellent place to start is by mapping out your ideal end-to-end process and then evaluating which technologies would make it more fluid and efficient.

Investing in solutions like these can reduce shipping costs, accelerate fulfillment operations, and scale your business; you can spend less time thinking about shipping difficulties and more time establishing and growing your brand.

Prepare for future logistics management difficulties with the proper strategy – The Conclusion

The logistics business is undoubtedly challenged from cost-cutting transportation to growing fuel prices, pandemic-related driver shortages, complex regulations, and the need for more sustainable operations.

However, just as being involved in a car accident without car insurance might result in a worse headache, being unprepared in the logistics industry is the same. And to prepare, the logistics industry must prioritize becoming as adaptable as possible using technology.

Technology enables the logistics industry to minimize mileage, transportation costs, and emissions, maximize fleet and driver utilization, and improve transparency and efficiency of the supply chain.

Jamal is a Content Marketing Specialist based in Hamburg, Germany. Jamal does journalistic coverages for the World Marketing Forum. In his spare time he's a horse photographer.

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