Various trends have been taking place in the logistics and shipping industry over the past few years and the effects of these drastic changes are now being felt.

Below are some of the areas we wanted to shortlist and highlight that we, at MTS Logistics, feel are important to follow in the world of freight forwarding, logistics, and supply-chain management.

1. Technology changes are coming to the shipping industry after years of delay.

The ocean shipping industry is one of the slowest to embrace technology. Until a few years ago, there was very limited information available for even the most basic tracking of a full container load. When transshipment was involved, it was even harder to locate a container’s whereabouts. Services have improved dramatically since then and technology is much more advanced than even a decade ago.

Over the past couple of years, technology has become the focal-point for improvements in the supply chain. With the latest improvements, now it is possible to see not only container moves but pretty much all relevant information. End-to-end full visibility of the supply chain is available. There have been massive investments made to further improve customer experience. These efforts will also improve information flow.

The implementation of blockchain will be the next big development that improves existing processes, increases efficiency, and cuts costs. All parties involved in logistics will benefit from blockchain, from customers being able to track products and trace the whole journey of their product manufacturing, to shippers being able to verify all transactions during the flow of goods. A single ledger will be accessible by all parties to judge authenticity, and track origin, place of storage, and other records. Overall, information will be drastically more transparent.

2. End-to-end logistics management is becoming commonplace.

In order to make a difference in the global market, everyone from large steamship lines to NVOCCs is trying to handle all aspects of logistics management from start-to-finish.

For instance, in order to complete a shipment from Chongqing, China to Chicago, the cargo needs to be handled by many different parties, including customs brokers, feeder operators, truckers, terminals, rail operators, and steamship lines. Each party has almost full access to customer information. In order to continue to compete in the global market, many companies are moving towards offering one solution for all logistics service needs.

Maersk’s latest decision to reinvent itself as an integrated container transport and logistics provider is a good example of the trend of parties trying to provide end-to-end logistics management.

3. Being customer-focused is once again very important to companies.

Today, customers are not only looking for companies to help them move their freight, but also companies that show customers they care about them.

From the largest logistics providers to small niche ones, being customer-centric is more important than ever. Companies must invest in improving their internal procedures to support ever-increasing customer needs. In order to create customer loyalty, investments in both technology and experienced customer service representatives are a must.

Regardless of their size, customer-centric companies will make a difference in the logistics industry and survive longer than their more transactional competitors.

4. Mergers and acquisitions are taking place more than ever as the shipping and logistics industry evolves.

A trend that started a few years ago with the introduction of shipping alliances, it is vessel-sharing agreements amongst steamship lines that are becoming commonplace today.

For NVOCCs, the latest mergers once again prove that being able to scale and join forces is becoming increasingly critical every day. There are only a handful of steamship lines left compared to even few years ago. NVOCCs will see the merger and acquisition trend further accelerate. Niche carriers will be the target of global companies that are looking to increase their market share, coverage, and expertise.

5. Focused, specialized operations are becoming needed more as the global market becomes more complex.

Expertise in a certain area of the supply chain is more appreciated than ever before. This expertise can be anything from certain product groups to a specific country or mode of transport. Although with growing competition, being a larger company means a better chance of survival in the current marketplace, expertise and concentration on a certain area is something that always be appreciated.

There are major changes going on in shipping and logistics. The industry is going through a transformation and companies that embrace the change will survive.