Modern Technology and the Shipping Industry: Changes and Predictions for the New Year

Retail analysts say 2020 demonstrated more than two years of e-commerce growth and improvements. As a result, it’s no surprise that major shipping delays continue to rattle North America and countries around the world even this far beyond the winter holidays. At its worst, millions of packages were stuck in transit, unable to get to their destinations by – or even near – their predicted arrival dates. Despite around-the-clock efforts by workers at the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) and non-government entities such as UPS and FedEx,  the mail system continues to be bogged down by the sheer magnitude of mail and packages that need to be delivered.

It is worth taking a look at the current technology innovations utilized by these mail-delivering institutions and what kind of changes we are likely to see coming in the next year as a measure to avoid a similar backlog in 2021.

Something to Keep in Mind: 2020 Was Highly Unusual

To start, it’s important to keep in mind that the whirlwind that was 2020 showed record numbers of online orders in large part due to COVID-19 regulations throughout the U.S. On top of that, a large snowstorm around the time of the holidays caused further backups in affected regions (which, as a result, led to strain on the delivery industry supply chain as a whole).

Current Technology in the Delivery Industry

2020 chaos aside, what technological improvements have been made in recent history to increase shipping efficiency and workflow?

  • Live tracking (traceability) – Companies can keep track of the movement of their vehicles to determine if, when, and where an issue may be occurring. On the customer side, people can get live updates for their package as it makes its way to them.
  • Predictive analysis and route optimization – There are tools to help companies develop the most efficient, time-saving routes for delivering packages.
  • Hybrid fleets – Rather than a company owning a full fleet of vehicles, delivery trucks/vehicles may be contracted out to third-party companies in order to increase productivity at a lower cost. Think of the ever-present Amazon vans you’ve probably seen driving around your city.

2021 Delivery Predictions

It is currently predicted that online ordering and delivery demand will continue to increase in 2021. As a result, companies are going to have to become more creative, efficient, and – in the end – utilize technology in unique and innovate ways. Trends and experts throughout the industry have predictions for what these developments might look like, and there’s a lot to be excited about.

  • Delivery with robots – Just like it sounds, experts predict that robots may be the new deliverers for packages by the year’s end. What exactly this might look like is yet to be seen – will our packages be delivered by drones? WALL-E? Who knows, but color us intrigued.  In California, there are already food delivery robots bringing customers their food orders and  some smaller robots have begun to appear in restaurants bringing foot to tables.
  • Multiple orders, single delivery – Order from three different stores and expect your items to arrive all at once. Whether it’s groceries, clothing, electronics – the list is endless. Experts predict an evolution in the supply chain in order to condense packages and increase efficiency in the delivery process.
  • Safety, safety, safety – Even with a vaccine on the horizon, safety is crucial in an industry that is, by definition, heavily reliant on person-to-person contact. Expected technological improvements and innovations include: digitized information about high-touch areas and surfaces (so the individuals delivering packages can be aware and stay safe), recognition software that includes the recognition of face masks, and the ability to rate and review the safety of any given process.

With so much technological progress made in 2020, there is a lot to look forward to in 2021. As we hopefully reach the end of this very long and difficult pandemic, the progress we make this year is likely to have a significant impact for many years to come. Curious how you can tap into these innovations to improve your digital business? Reach out to Media Genesis to learn more.