Transportation Trends to Expect in 2018

Much like every facet of the economy, the transportation industry has not been able to escape the grasp of technology’s influence. As we march deeper into 2018, transportation management trends continue to point toward an increasing emphasis on technology aimed at improving collaboration between carrier and shipper.

Also, 2018 has shown a renewed importance on customer-centric services in an exceedingly competitive marketplace, thanks in large part to the ubiquity of mobile devices that allows the customer to search for and compare companies when they are in need of a product. Amazon, who is often seen as a market disruptor, changed the game by changing customer’s expectations in regards to the expansive range of products offered, their availability and the quickness of delivery.

It is safe to say that are many factors, both internal and external, that a company must adapt to in order to stay relevant. This article will go over some of the trends transportation management can expect to see in the back half of 2018.

Upgrading TMS Technology

Track Shipping DataOne of the key features of shipping is the effectiveness of the transportation management system, or TMS, used. Moving forward, it is going to become increasingly more important that the TMS used can be scalable and also provides information for a more complete picture of the shipping process. This would include more insight into contracts, invoice auditing, carrier information, the capability to engage in e-commerce needs and last mile delivery.

A viable TMS would provide more data that is easy to analyze, up-to-date and easily shared among all the parties involved. This kind of improved communication can better business relationships and instill confidence in your company. TMS is growing in popularity with shippers and offers a new kind of collaboration between all parties.

Shippers can keep TMS in-house and upgrade their existing system or relegate this feature to an outside, third-party who is more equipped to tackle the TMS obstacle. Regardless of which avenue a shipper selects, staying current with technology and its capabilities can give a company a new-found edge.

Company Transparency Will Increase in the Public

As more technology is implemented, the more a company’s data like management practices, regulation, and safety compliance will be readily available to the public. This sort of visibility places much more responsibility on carrier and shippers. Management that has a firm grasp on industry rule changes, like the hours and service regulations that were implemented a few years ago, can keep pace with public perception by doing business with carriers that are on the up-and-up.

If a customer does not receive their delivery on time, the blame will fall on the shipper, not the carrier, so it is growing more and more important to align with competent carriers in this age with an increased emphasis on customer service.

Increase Role of Contract Carriers and Last-Mile Delivery

Since the growth of e-commerce continues to increase, many shippers are expected to meet the customer’s expectation to receive their good or service as quickly as possible, or otherwise known as last-mile delivery. With this kind of pressure on shippers, the future of contract carriers will lead to their increased usage.

However, leaning on contract carriers come with its own burdens, in particular with a shipper’s TMS solutions. It’s a real possibility that the technology used by a contract carrier will not integrate with the shipper’s TMS programs. With the industry relying more on collaboration, this problem will have to be tackled moving forward. Management will have to try to find different and new ways to allow contract carriers access to their TMS solutions to help streamline the shipping process.

Combating the Driver Shortage

A fear that has been on the horizon for a few years now in the transportation industry may start having more of an impact in the coming months. Management has been looking at new ways to attract new drivers and retain the ones they have, without causing the cost to rise.

There are a few tactics being considered to reduce the impact of this looming shortage. For example, management is starting to look at the viability of platooning and localization to overcome the driver issues.

Additionally, Uber has been considering a jump into the trucking industry, using the same business plan as they did with the taxi industry. While this new venture is in its infancy, Uber can once again become the market disrupter for a whole new industry.

Technology, customer service, and collaboration are the key pillars of the trends, not just for 2018, but for the next several years. Companies need to adapt to these impending changes, and quickly if it wants to stay relevant.