Successful logistics companies tend to excel in several different areas, namely customer service, efficiency and transparency. Most of the high-tech products hitting the market exist to address these very same concerns. As the industry continues to navigate its fairly recent technological awakening, it is becoming clear that the best logistics companies boast a strong focus on technology. In fact, it has become nearly impossible to succeed in the space without embracing tech.
“Technology is really at the core of our success. Even during COVID, we had double-digit growth. Our technology propelled us to adapt,” ACERTUS Chief Digital Officer Blair Koch said. “We had to quickly set up an environment where people could work from home. Automation has been a big player for us, a huge enabler due to unavailability of resources. Automating tasks we typically had people doing manually has been a savior for us.”
The pressure to embrace a high-tech business model existed well before the COVID-19 pandemic rocked the world in 2020. The instability of a global pandemic, however, made it clear that up-to-date technology is required to survive, not just thrive. The companies that have the digital infrastructures in place to pivot quickly tend to be positioned much better than their less prepared peers as the world opens back up. Additionally, many of these companies found new ways to expand their businesses in the face of the pandemic, adjusting to shifting consumer shopping habits with relative ease.
ACERTUS operates in the automotive sector, and opportunities to adapt and enter new spaces have been plentiful over the last couple of years.
“One big catalyst these days is home pickup and delivery via digital dealerships,” ACERTUS CEO Trent Broberg said. “This creates a lot of unique logistics challenges. More people are comfortable buying online, and less people want to go into a dealership.”
The pandemic caused a major upswing in consumers’ willingness to purchase vehicles online: first out of necessity, then out of preference. But the coronavirus is not the only culprit behind this emerging delivery trend. Electric vehicles are often delivered directly to customers, skipping the dealerships altogether.
“The electric vehicle market is changing production, and the way those companies are distributing vehicles is changing on the backs of the larger movement. Our business model is suited for electric vehicles in general,” Koch said. “A lot of companies are looking to sell direct to consumers via digital platforms. We offer home delivery and pickup services.”
Delivering vehicles directly to consumers poses a new set of challenges many logistics companies are not prepared to meet. Those that are prepared are being presented with a prime opportunity to take advantage of the shifting automotive landscape.
Qualities like transparency and trackability have long been emphasized throughout the logistics industry, but real-time visibility and condition updates become even more important in a system designed to cut out the middleman – in this case the dealership – by delivering to the end consumer. Delivering a late or damaged vehicle to this end consumer does not go over well.
“The customer demands we integrate with them via technology and have real-time status updates. We couldn’t exist moving forward without the core technology,” Koch said. “Data is key to where we’re headed in terms of managing our profitability and our margins.”
ACERTUS has been able to thrive in a difficult market due, in part, to its technological infrastructure. But for the most part, automotive tends to lag behind other sectors of the industry when it comes to technological advancement. Koch encourages those who are still hesitant to embrace the digital world sooner rather than later.
“The amount of data that is available would be hard for a person to consume,” Koch said. “Don’t be afraid of technology. Don’t be afraid to learn from other industries.”