Customers are expecting same- or next-day delivery, variable last-mile delivery options, high in-transit visibility, flexible or free return policies and always-in-stock inventories.
A survey commissioned by DHL looked at a market environment that is rapidly changing because of both geopolitical changes and technological transformation.
But by far the biggest issue on companies’ minds is e-commerce and its implications on service and ground transportation requirements, DHL said.
According to the survey, customers are expecting same- or next-day delivery, variable last-mile delivery options, high in-transit visibility, flexible or free return policies and always-in-stock inventories.
“Our European customers look for first-class capabilities in enabling last-mile deliveries, which is why technology will be central to navigating this new era for ground transportation,” said Paul Stone, CEO of DHL Supply Chain Nordics and head of transport for MLEMEA. “The capability of AI and data analytics to manage the order profile and shipping patterns of customers’ increasingly complex and demanding operating models while optimizing cost and service means that they are now viewed as essential services rather than added benefits.”
The DHL survey, “The Logistics Transport Evolution: The Road Ahead,” found the impact of e-commerce on markets in general and ground transportation in particular varies by region. For example, when comparing the impact of e-commerce over the next one to two years versus three to five years, U.S. respondents expect the impact to slightly decrease, from 63% to 60%, while in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific and Latin America, that same impact number increases from 65% to 69%.
“We undertook this study to gain an insight into exactly what companies expect from their transportation service providers, both today and tomorrow. Our research has shown us that customers are increasingly looking for complete solutions with a global reach as they can solve a wide range of transportation issues and requirements,” Stone said.
Technology and its ability to help manage a complex environment is increasingly seen as a standard requirement of 3PLs, according to DHL, which said 67% of companies surveyed believe big data analytics and artificial intelligence are services that are essential for 3PLs to offer their customers.