Logistics executives will prioritize artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) investments to handle the challenges of a post-Covid-19 economy, according to research from supply chain software vendor Blue Yonder, released today.
The tech firm surveyed more than 150 C-suite and senior executives from manufacturing, retail, third-party logistics (3PL), transportation, and warehousing firms with responsibility for logistics and manufacturing operations in the United States for its The New Normal of Logistics report. Nearly 50% of respondents said they expect to implement or enhance their warehouse management systems (WMS) and cloud infrastructure in the next 12 months. Advanced technology solutions will be a prime route to meeting those goals, with respondents saying they will focus on implementing or enhancing: AI and/or ML capabilities (42%); sales and operations planning (S&OP) and/or sales and operations execution (S&OE) (42%); and transportation management systems (TMS) (41%).
“As many companies were ill-prepared for the mounting pressures of delivering enhanced consumer experiences caused by pandemic-induced e-commerce surges, logistics executives are turning their energy and resources to meeting new and rising expectations,” according to Fab Brasca, group vice president, Global Solutions at Blue Yonder. “To compete in this consumer-centric world, companies will have to adopt technologies that not only provide efficiency, but real-time visibility to meet skyrocketing customer expectations.”
Convenience and flexibility are also top priorities in the coming year. Nearly 40% of respondents said they plan to maintain and optimize convenient fulfillment options in the wake of the pandemic, including curbside pickup, buy-online pick-up in store (BOPIS), and home delivery.
“The pandemic pushed consumers toward more convenient fulfillment options for products and services. With disruptions impacting the supply chain over the past 12 months, consumers’ high expectations for service levels have not wavered, forcing retailers and manufacturers to maintain efficient, fast fulfillment,” the researchers wrote.
Sustainability and labor management also rank high on the industry’s priority list. Fifty-seven percent of respondents said they plan to invest in more sustainable upstream operations (materials sourcing, suppliers, and manufacturing) to maximize sustainability throughout the supply chain. Respondents also said they will implement a multi-pronged approach to managing labor shortages:
40% said they are being more lenient on specific job/industry experience requirements to attract and retain talent in a tight labor market;
54% said they plan to invest in workforce management technologies and 51% plan to invest in enhanced workforce training procedures in the next 12 months;
And 48% said they plan to offer more flexible scheduling options.