Logistics Challenges & Trends In 2023 & Beyond: Navigating The Future Of Mobility

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_custom_heading text=”Prologue”][vc_column_text]The future of transportation logistics management remains tentatively poised. It will be shaped by revolutionary transformations with major disruptive technologies like blockchain, IoT, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and autonomous vehicles. However, the transport industry also faces headwinds in the near term with sluggish growth, worsened by inflationary pressures worldwide. With real-time tracking becoming the need of the hour, can outsourcing logistics services to third-party logistics partners provide a competitive advantage? Let’s take a dive into the logistics challenges and trends that will define 2024![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_custom_heading text=”Transportation Trends: Gearing up for 2024″ el_id=”Transportation-Trends-:-Gearing-up-for-2024″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Here are the 5 major transportation trends that are unveiling as you read this![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_custom_heading text=”1. Are Autonomous Vehicles Going to Rule the Roost?” font_container=”tag:h3|text_align:left”][vc_single_image image=”62126″ img_size=”full”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]It is the age of automation and it promises greater safety benefits with Automated Driving Systems (ADS). In the future of mobility, driverless cars are a reality.

Self-driving vehicles will progressively incorporate six levels of driver assistance technology, making improvements in the coming years. The six levels range from Level 0, which requires human drivers to do all driving tasks, to Level 5, wherein vehicle ADS executes all tasks.

Level 0 – No Automation: Nill autonomy, the driver performs all driving tasks.

Level 1 – Driver Assistance: Vehicles are controlled by drivers with little driving assistance features. 

Level 2 – Partial Automation: Vehicles are armed with automated functions (acceleration, steering, etc). However, driver engagement is required and they have to monitor the environment.

Level 3 – Conditional Automation: Drivers are a necessity but they are now free from monitoring the environment. Nevertheless, they must be on their toes to take control at all times.

Level 4 – High Automation: The vehicle is now able to execute all driving functions under specified conditions. The driver might have the option to take control, though not required.

Level 5 – Full Automation: The vehicle is capable of performing all driving functions under all conditions (even in the absence of a driver).

For instance, Israel has become a hub for $35 billion worth of mobility innovations that intends to reshape the global transportation industry, with hundreds of mobility-related startups trying to solve logistics challenges. And, global vehicle manufacturers are jumping on the bandwagon too![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_custom_heading text=”2. Sustainability” font_container=”tag:h3|text_align:left”][vc_single_image image=”62905″ img_size=”full” onclick=”custom_link” link=”javascript:void(0)” el_class=”OBServiceGuidesDownload”][vc_wp_text]

[/vc_wp_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Before the transportation industry seeks to upgrade and build modern infrastructure, lay new railway tracks, and construct new roads, it’s vital that the stakeholders come together to improvise and become sustainable. While other industries have taken baby steps to reduce emissions, the transport sector continues to expand at the expense of fossil fuels. 

Without taking major actions to counter this tendency, the climate targets established by international organizations, such as the Paris Agreement, to attain net-zero emissions by 2050 would be almost unattainable.

The regulators and consumers alike are waking up to the dangers of extreme climate and demanding greater sustainability across the transportation sub-segments.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_single_image image="62130" img_size="full"][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_custom_heading text="3. Artificial Intelligence - The Backbone of Level 5 Autonomous Vehicles" font_container="tag:h3|text_align:left"][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Pedestrian detection is a key hindrance in Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition since they are freakishly unpredictable when negotiating with road traffic. The key is not necessarily for AI to recognize distinct human features like eyes and beards, but to distinguish a human from another object and understand a pedestrian’s intention.

Will a pedestrian cross the road out of nowhere? 

How likely it is for a person to move right (or left) in response to an approaching vehicle?

As per a report, the AI transportation market is projected to reach $3.5 billion by 2023, clocking an impressive growth of 16.5%.

Traffic Management In Mega Cities

Congestion is a major problem in all major cities worldwide. AI can revolutionize traffic management. Coupled with embedded sensors and cameras, large volumes of traffic details can be captured at minimal investments. AI-powered systems can analyze the data and provide commuters with important details such as traffic predictions, road blockages, route optimization options, etc. 

For instance, Spanish startup Trucksters has deployed an AI-based long-distance full truckload (FTL) transport service. It arms the FTL trucks with sensors that allow for real-time monitoring. Leveraging its proprietary relay system, Trucksters has reduced the transit time of fleet transport. 

To cut it short, AI in transportation is an inevitable trend. And the benefits of outsourcing logistics services in the field of AI are manifold since you have to tap into the talent transcending national boundaries![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_custom_heading text="4. Mobility as a Service" font_container="tag:h3|text_align:left"][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]MaaS (Mobility as a Service) adds value to both commuting as well as cargo transport ecosystems by deploying a single application to access unified mobility options. It also uses a single payment channel instead of multiple ticketing, which is the standard norm till now. 

A MaaS operator integrates various transportation modes, like buses, private operators, ride-sharing individuals, and railways on the unified platform interface. A successful MaaS service can also unlock new business opportunities by organizing and operating several transport options, to serve unmet demand.

In simple terms, the whole MaaS concept involves 3 key components:

  • Providing a service that focuses on the transport needs of individuals/businesses;
  • Providing mobility instead of transport; and
  • Providing integration of transport services, payment, ticketing, and data insights.

MaaS has the potential to speed up logistics and this is a major trend to watch out for![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_custom_heading text="5. Transportation & Blockchain: An Inevitable Marriage!" font_container="tag:h3|text_align:left"][vc_single_image image="62915" img_size="full"][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Scenario 1:

Imagine you are a freight broker who needs to fill a load in a specific pickup location. You have discovered a new carrier who can do the job, but you can't assign it until the carrier is properly onboarded. This situation can be frustrating when you are in a hurry!

Blockchain technology can help you by creating a decentralized network that stores all the necessary records of carriers across the transportation and freight industry. This is almost impossible to fake and can be verified instantaneously.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_single_image image="62134" img_size="full"][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Scenario 2:

A company wishes to release payment to a shipper as soon as its goods reach its destination. A blockchain-backed smart contract can make it happen. 

Supply chains nowadays are extremely inefficient because they rely on paper-based systems or mail which must pass through numerous approval channels, increasing exposure to loss/fraud. Blockchain can completely eliminate all of that. Administrative costs currently account for 20% of the overall transportation costs and the amount of money that can be saved utilizing smart contracts could be mind-boggling! 

Blockchain in Trucking Alliance (BiTA) is already leading a global initiative to introduce blockchain into the trucking industry and boost the efficiency of freight movement and ease of payments. The blockchain buzz is only going to get stronger in the years to come! [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_custom_heading text="Logistics Challenges Galore, Opportunities Beneath the Surface?" el_id="Logistics-Challenges-Galore-,-Opportunities-Beneath-the-Surface-?"][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_single_image image="62135" img_size="full"][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_custom_heading text="1. Truckers Shortage - A Result of Work-Life Imbalance?" font_container="tag:h3|text_align:left"][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Picture yourself as an employee who wants to have a good work-life balance. You might want to steer clear of being a lorry driver, according to a study by CBS in late 2020. 

The study explored which jobs lead to a poor work-life balance. Of all the employees they asked, 7.6% reported that they frequently or very frequently experience a work-life imbalance. But, for lorry drivers, it was 18%. Vis-a-vis the average of all professions surveyed, truck drivers report a work-life imbalance 237% more frequently.

How autonomous vehicles are looking to fill the gap?

Autonomous vehicles can fuel efficiency by obliterating human drivers. What’s more, one can program these vehicles to dynamically alter pre-established routes and speed, based on informed inputs. These vehicles can also be tracked by logistics coordinators and collect data all across their journey, to further improve operations.

Point in case? Recently, Elon Musk stated that the company’s next-gen vehicle will function “almost entirely in an autonomous mode”.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_single_image image="62139" img_size="full" add_caption="yes"][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_custom_heading text="2. Improving Cybersecurity" font_container="tag:h3|text_align:left"][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Transportation businesses are relying more on technology than ever before. Unfortunately, for cybercriminals, it sounds like Eden’s Garden! Without an effective transportation management system, workers can unknowingly reveal internal information that could lead to serious cyber attacks. 

Likewise, without an effective protocol in place, the transportation and logistics staff may not comply with specific measures to prevent such attacks from happening. This is becoming a critical threat as fleets of autonomous vehicles hit the highways.

The Uswitch study reveals that connected cars generate up to 25GB of data per hour. This includes data about the driver, the car, the passengers, and whatnot. To put things in perspective, that is more than the data generated by a Boeing 787!

Here is another chilling fact. Each of the four largest shipping companies (worldwide) has been hit by cybercriminals. Imagine what will happen if global commerce gets disrupted with just a few clicks from a rogue actor!

Way out? Cybersecurity training!

This is the cornerstone of all efforts that a transportation business can make to defend itself from cyber attacks. Reason? Most attacks have an element of social engineering (like emails, texts). Apart from that network segmentation can also help. If networks are segmented into smaller parts, IT managers can boost network performance and improve security.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_custom_heading text="3. Climate-proofing Transport Infrastructure" font_container="tag:h3|text_align:left"][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Transportation is a major contributor to climate change. In the United States, transportation accounted for 28% of greenhouse gas emissions in 2021. These emissions come from gas to power cars, trucks, ships, planes, and trains. As the risks from climate change escalate, countries need to prepare for rising transport infrastructure costs. For instance, World Bank research estimates that the cost of road maintenance in Africa will increase by 270% in the coming decades as a result of climate change.

How electrification can help?

Transitioning to greener electric vehicles (EVs) is the way to go!

A study from the Our World in Data captures the staggering fall of lithium-ion battery prices, which have declined by 97 percent (yes, you read that right!) since 1991. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), the global electric car stock mounted a 10 million peak in 2020, a 43% increase from 2019. The IEA report further estimates that the share of electric cars could reach 60% by 2030 in a net-zero emissions scenario.

That has fuelled the mass production of electrified vehicles (EVs), in the past decade. A cleaner and more efficient alternative to conventional vehicles, they are being supported by government policies around the world.

But, what happens if these electric vehicles keep running on electricity generated by dirty fuels like coal? Food for thought?[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_custom_heading text="4. Visibility & Real-time Tracking" font_container="tag:h3|text_align:left"][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]For many shippers, having real-time visibility of their freight is a top priority in the supply chain, second only to reducing costs and improving transit speed. Real-time visibility allows businesses to react swiftly to any disruptions that may occur in the supply chain. In the past, shippers could only monitor their cargo when it reached a certain point. But now, live visibility is essential for an effective supply chain.

Visibility also aids the entire supply chain, including the distribution operations. For instance, a delayed shipment can cause production lines to stop in a factory, a shortage of inventory, or a realignment of staffing on the loading docks. It can also reduce the efficiency of other parts of the supply chain. 

Can logistics outsourcing help with tracking?

Yes, it can!

Hiring niche logistics coordinators is not a luxury but a necessity in today’s fast-paced world. Veteran logistics experts put you in a commanding position to remote control logistic operations by eliminating risks, and losses, and anticipating disruptions. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_single_image image="62861" img_size="full" onclick="custom_link" img_link_target="_blank" link="https://calendly.com/officebeacon"][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_custom_heading text="Transportation Industry at a Glance" el_id="Transportation-Industry-at-a-Glance"][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_custom_heading text="Applying the Brakes" el_id="Applying-the-Brakes-,-the-Conclusion"][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]The logistics industry often grapples with handling the movement of goods from one place to another. With major disruptions and tech advancements in the mix, the industry is looking to iron out logistics challenges by embracing the latter. Though each transportation subsector is affected differently, there is a visible momentum towards logistics outsourcing to achieve greater micro-mobility (or MaaS), automation, electrification, and AI management. Over the long term, these are all promising signs for the sector.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

How Can a Virtual Assistant Help You With Store Inventory Management?

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]74% of businesses have experienced shipment delays and much longer lead times. This gap represents the urgent need for improvement in the industry. Store inventory management is a complicated process, and it serves as the backbone for the optimal functioning of retail businesses. Present market conditions require firms to step up their game. However, hiring support doesn’t come cheap; that’s why most companies hire virtual assistants to complete their tasks. Read more to discover how outsourcing store inventory management to a virtual store assistant can cut your expenses and worries in half.[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”59991″ img_size=”full” onclick=”custom_link” link=”javascript:void(0)” el_class=”OBServiceGuidesDownload”][vc_wp_text]

[/vc_wp_text][vc_custom_heading text="The Growing Significance of Virtual Assistants in the Retail Landscape" el_id="The-Growing-Significance-of-Virtual-Assistants-in-the-Retail-Landscape"][vc_column_text]The expansion of the retail industry has created a growing need for virtual assistants to support back-end processes like store inventory management. From stocking to order management, the end-to-end process is handled by them. Apart from affordability, the aspect that makes hiring retail staff different from full-time employees is their scalability and flexibility. The working model gives them the added advantage of working remotely-anytime & anywhere. [/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image="59981" img_size="full" onclick="custom_link" img_link_target="_blank" el_id="https://calendly.com/sales-support-10/ob-sdr?month=2023-06"][vc_custom_heading text="Essential Skills Your Virtual Assistant Needs For Store Inventory Management" el_id="Essential-Skills-Your-Virtual-Assistant-Needs-For-Store-Inventory-Management"][vc_column_text]What skills do you need while hiring virtual assistants for store inventory management? Well, we have done a quick rundown of the top ten mandatory skills that your VA must have. This list makes it easier for you to sieve through the resumes and find one that suits your needs.


1. Communication 

Communication is one of the most effective and powerful skill sets. Especially in the retail industry, solid communication skills are required to complete daily store inventory management tasks. Your VA should have written and verbal proficiency to easily handle all client and vendor communication. Whether sending emails, daily update reports, 

coordinating with vendors, etc., your VA should be on it. It helps bring uniformity in terms of communication in the workplace and accelerates retail operations.


2. Technical Expertise 

Joining the digital transformation wave is the only way to keep up with the growing competition. This process requires every candidate you hire to have basic IT knowledge. Fortunately, most virtual assistants are well-versed in technological advancements and have experience using a powerful software tool suite. Excel, Powerpoint, CRM, and inventory management applications are some of the areas your VA should have proven experience in. Being capable of using these apps can automate basic tasks in your store and reduce human error in store inventory management. 


3. Email Management 

Running a business comes with a messy inbox. This is where most VAs come in. Regardless of your virtual assistant's role, email management skills are a must. Your virtual store assistant sieves through your emails and organizes them based on your priorities. It saves you the hassle of searching through important emails and responding to them. They are also responsible for timely replying to client emails, customer inquiries, orders, vendor reports, etc. You could also ask your VA to execute email marketing campaigns, which includes monitoring them and using analytical parameters such as click-through rates, open rates, subscribe/unsubscribe rates, and bounce rates. [/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image="59989" img_size="full" onclick="custom_link" img_link_target="_blank"][vc_column_text]

4. Time Management 

Smart business owners hire virtual assistants that successfully manage their time on their own and with their clients. You're hiring a VA to work as an independent individual who can improve your business's overall efficiency and productivity. It means the virtual assistant needs to be caught up with daily tasks, keep up with deadlines, streamline workflow, and realistically plan daily task completion. Virtual assistants generally create calendars to monitor and coordinate store inventory management and other retail operations. 


5. Typing 

Typing skills come very much in handy, especially while working remotely. Your virtual assistants must have professional typing skills to take notes during meetings, transcribe client meetings or reports, or accurately perform data entry. Store inventory management requires handling a lot of data; mishandling could cause problems for your business. However, a VA with sharp skills can fasten the data entry process so your company doesn't have to face retail hassles. 


6. Mathematical Skills

Your virtual assistant will be dealing with numbers all day, so they need to be quick with their arithmetic skills. Store inventory management can be hectic and time-consuming, so a virtual assistant who is comfortable working with numbers. This makes it easy for them to look at Inventory data all day and process them with minimal human error. Therefore, it's a significant advantage if your virtual assistant has this skill.


7. Detail- Oriented

Virtual assistants responsible for store inventory management should ideally have a keen eye for detail. The retail environment is fast-paced, and you need someone who doesn't miss out on the details among it all. Being detail-oriented comes in handy when dealing with stocking, customer complaints, inbound and outbound inventory, shipping, etc. Your virtual assistant should meticulously handle and store the data in an organized manner so it's easy to retrieve them when needed.[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image="59984" img_size="full" onclick="custom_link" img_link_target="_blank" el_id="https://calendly.com/sales-support-10/ob-sdr?month=2023-06"][vc_custom_heading text="5 Tips That Will Streamline Your Store Inventory Management" font_container="tag:h2|font_size:5-Tips-That-Will-Streamline-Your-Store-Inventory-Management%20|text_align:left"][vc_column_text]An efficient and well-maintained inventory system is the core of any business. Not only does this significantly reduce operations costs and increase margins. Implement these five expert tips to make your store inventory management effective & efficient. 


1. Maintain Safety Stock

Lack of stock can affect the profitability of your business. That's why business owners use statistical methods for accurate sales forecasts. It helps them determine stock for each item in the inventory. In addition, it's crucial to maintain safe stock options, which means keeping a minimum in-stock count for each item in the inventory. Software applications like Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems help business owners track this information for each item so they can maintain safety stock.


2. Leverage Technology 

Technological advancements are a vital differentiator in giving you an edge over your competitors. As a business owner, you must stay on top of inventory tracking and management techniques. It helps in making informed decisions regarding which technologies to invest in. Integrating the latest technological tools and platforms will facilitate the company's rapid development.


3. Cut the Excess Inventory 

Excess inventory lying around in your warehouse is just dead weight. It occupies unnecessary space, making storing or moving new stock challenging. Products no longer being sold or used or in demand must be unloaded. Research shows that reducing stock-outs and overstocks can lower inventory costs by 10%. An inventory audit is the fastest and easiest way to single out products underperforming in the market. Offering special discounts like buy one get one free or 50% off will help you free up storage.


4. Order Processing 

Order processing and efficient store inventory management go hand in hand. Implementing advanced strategies for order processing management is pivotal for providing efficient services such as shipping, receiving, and storage. Introducing a new layout to the warehouse and reliable personnel will ensure orders are processed quickly without delays or errors. There are software tools available that help business owners simplify order processing and management.


Also read: Are Virtual Assistants Necessary for Efficient Order Management Process?


5. Contingency Strategies 

Running a business is complicated, to say the least. Retail operations, specifically store inventory management is not an easy task. Several things can go wrong, such as running out of stock, no working capital to purchase items, fluctuating demand due to seasonal hikes, etc. Thus, it's necessary to have contingency plans to be prepared for such unforeseen circumstances. This way, you have a plan of action to help you get out in an emergency. [/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image="59978" img_size="full" onclick="custom_link" el_id="https://calendly.com/sales-support-10/ob-sdr?month=2023-06"][vc_custom_heading text="Conclusion" el_id="Conclusion"][vc_column_text]Why struggle with store inventory management when you can outsource it to a virtual retail assistant? The retail industry is vast, and you need backup support. So, business owners choose outsourcing as the most convenient and cost-effective solution. Flowz has domain experts with considerable knowledge and skillsets to meet your requirements. Outsourcing from Flowz gives you the benefit of an exceptional online store assistant at competitive rates.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Are Virtual Assistants Necessary for Efficient Order Management Process?

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]The order management process is the backbone of any eCommerce business. About 20.8% of retail purchases in 2023 are expected to occur online. From the time a customer clicks on ‘buy’ till the time the product is delivered to the customer, the whole journey falls under order management and processing. It sounds easy enough at first, but if it’s not maintained or executed correctly- it will lead to potential loss and damage. In this blog, we will explore the order management process and how a virtual assistant can help you.[/vc_column_text][vc_custom_heading text=”Understanding Order Management Process” el_id=”Understanding-Order-Management-Process”][vc_column_text]In simple terms, the order management process includes accepting, tracking, and fulfilling orders placed by customers. However, there are a lot more components to it. The order processing manager will also have to coordinate and manage the inventory system, delivery visibility, etc. With the advancement of technology, business owners can now keep track of everything in one place. 

There’s room for error in the coordination and involvement of many departments within the order management process. As a business owner, you can’t afford such a mistake. That’s why most business owners outsource eCommerce store management, specifically order processing management, to save time and money. Letting an expert virtual assistant handle all the grunt work reduces the possibility of error and frees up time for your full-time employees to focus on other essential tasks.[/vc_column_text][vc_gallery interval=”3″ images=”59251″ img_size=”full” onclick=”custom_link” custom_links=”javascript:void(0)” el_class=”OBServiceGuidesDownload”][vc_wp_text]

[/vc_wp_text][vc_custom_heading text="The Key Components of Order Management Process: Tasks a VA Can Help You With" el_id="The-Key-Components-of-Order-Management-Process:-Tasks-a-VA-Can-Help-You-With"][vc_column_text]Are you planning to outsource your order management process but unsure what tasks your virtual assistants can handle? Well, worry not. In this blog section, we focus on the different tasks your VA can do for you.


1. Order Receiving and Entry

Depending on your business model, your VA receives and accepts customer orders through emails, social media, websites, or phone calls. It is the first of the many steps in the order management process. Your VA can enter the order details manually or use software to automate the process to ensure all the necessary information is stored in a database. Furthermore, they send an order confirmation message or mail to the customer.


2. Order Verification and Validation

Once the order is accepted, it needs to be validated regarding available inventory, promo codes, special discounts, pricing, etc. Virtual assistants do this to monitor the business's stock availability and cash flow. They also verify the information provided by the customer, like phone number, address, etc., to ensure the completeness and accuracy of the order information. The VA screens all orders to ensure there's no fraud to prevent/block fraudulent charges, keeping your business safe.


3. Inventory Check and Allocation

Managing inventory is a tedious and time/consuming task in the order management process, but it's crucial for the success of your business. With the help of your VA, you get detailed and error-free inventory reports timely, so you can focus on optimizing your business. They update the inventory records and alert you if there's an out-of-stock or low-stock situation to take the necessary action. Most of all, your business will always be up and running as the VA will ensure that there's always sufficient stock for order fulfillment.


4. Payment Processing

It's always best to let one person handle the end-to-end order management process. Virtual assistants are generally well-versed in financial knowledge and have the skills to use software tools to make payment processing easier. They handle credit card transactions, processing invoices, payments, etc. To ensure the customer's and company's safety, your VA ensures that all protocols are followed, the payment gateways are secure, and the payment collection process is monitored.[/vc_column_text][vc_gallery interval="3" images="59253" img_size="full" onclick=""][vc_column_text]

5. Order Fulfillment and Packaging

Since multiple departments are involved, coordinating with them can get tricky. VAs are constantly in touch with the warehouse or fulfillment center during order management. They coordinate with the center to ensure the order is picked up, packaged, and delivered on time. Further, virtual assistants also arrange for packaging material (like boxes, protective bags, etc.), to secure the products and ensure the delivered goods are not damaged. VAs also look into labels and packing slips to confirm the order is correct and reaches the right person. 


6. Shipping and Delivery Logistics

Another department virtual assistants coordinate with during the order management process is logistics. VAs help them schedule pickups for on-time delivery. They must also look into customer preferences like shipping methods, delivery destination, cost on delivery options, cost considerations, etc. They take care of the shipping and delivery logistics to ensure no delay during transit. On-time delivery adds to customer satisfaction, which builds brand reputation.


7. Order Tracking and Status Updates

Do you know that 76% of people will stop doing business with a company after two terrible customer experiences? They want to see where the order is, how long it will take to reach, etc. Virtual assistants keep customers informed about their order status and answer any query that they might have. They can provide further information on order shipping, processing, approximate delivery date, and more. It reassures the customer and keeps them in a loop. 


8. Returns and Exchanges Management

Virtual assistants also handle the process of managing exchanges or returns for customers. VAs communicate with them to understand why they want to exchange or return the product, if the product received is damaged, etc. These reasons help your business improve production and order management processes. Customers get 24/7 assistance from virtual assistance to initiate return requests, get return shipping, and exchange products on time. 


9. Customer Communication and Support

A Harvard Company Review states that business owners spend, on average, 3% of their work hours communicating with customers. It means there's little time allocated to the people essential for growing the business. That's why they choose to outsource a virtual assistant to help them with the order management process. This way, business owners can focus on other things on their plate without neglecting customer support. 


10. Order Documentation and Record-Keeping

The order management process is complex; virtual assistants keep the process organized and manageable by documenting everything. They are responsible for maintaining and keeping track of ongoing and past order details, payment records, customer data, and more. These documents and records are stored in a manner that is easily accessible for future use. Virtual assistants can also use data and records to analyze trends and give insights into sales, business trends, or customer behavior.[/vc_column_text][vc_gallery interval="3" images="59262" img_size="full" onclick="custom_link" custom_links_target="_blank" custom_links="#E-8_aHR0cHMlM0ElMkYlMkZjYWxlbmRseS5jb20lMkZzYWxlcy1zdXBwb3J0LTEwJTJGb2Itc2RyJTNGbW9udGglM0QyMDIzLTA0"][vc_custom_heading text="Overcoming Common Challenges in Order Management Process" el_id="Overcoming-Common-Challenges-in-Order-Management-Process"][vc_column_text]The order management process is not smooth sailing. During this journey, you are bound to encounter one or many challenges. Here is a rundown of some of such issues and how to solve them.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]

1. Technology Limitations 

The manual order management process is a thing of the past. It is time-consuming, inaccurate, causes delays, is error-prone, and ultimately leads to customer dissatisfaction. Business owners have realized that the key to rapid growth and success is automation. By integrating order management system processes or even customer relationship management software, you can improve the efficacy of operations on all fronts of your business.


2. Order Tracking 

Customers want to know where the product is or how long it will take to deliver. Poor tracking and visibility of the order lead to customer queries, a hike in customer support requests, and a poor shopping experience. To avoid this, streamline your eCommerce site or app and allow customers to track their orders and get real-time updates. Back-end processes like integrating tracking numbers from shipping carriers into your OMS needs to be done to give such a service to your buyers. Customers who can view and manage orders independently are less likely to be dissatisfied with your business[/vc_column_text][vc_gallery interval="3" images="59256"][vc_column_text]

3. Collaboration and Communication 

As mentioned before, the order management process requires many departments to communicate and coordinate to deliver the product successfully. In most cases, the inefficient communication between these parties leads to delays or errors in order processing. To prevent this from happening, most businesses outsource virtual assistants as it's less time-consuming, and they are well-versed with all the practices/tools required for accessible and effective communication. 


4. Scalability 

As your business experiences an increase or decrease in demand due to seasonal fluctuations, market forces, etc., it can be hard to adapt to such changes instantly. There needs to be a system in place through which you can maintain the flexibility to meet the changing demands. Outsourcing the order management process is the easiest and most effective solution. Depending on the current requirements, you can scale up or down and pay accordingly. An alternative solution is to invest in scalable technology that can handle the increasing orders when necessary.[/vc_column_text][vc_gallery interval="3" images="59250" img_size="full" onclick="custom_link" custom_links_target="_blank" custom_links="#E-8_aHR0cHMlM0ElMkYlMkZjYWxlbmRseS5jb20lMkZzYWxlcy1zdXBwb3J0LTEwJTJGb2Itc2RyJTNGbW9udGglM0QyMDIzLTA0"][vc_custom_heading text="To Sum Up" el_id="To-Sum-Up"][vc_column_text]By now, it's clear that virtual assistants are the solution to all challenges encountered during the order management process. They are necessary to streamline operations and drive growth or success. Outsourcing a virtual assistant from Flowz comes with many perks. The competitive rates allow you to hire them cost-effectively; you get access to a suite of powerful software tools, detailed weekly reports of VAs, and so much more. Outsource your order management process and leave your operations in capable hands.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column][/vc_column][vc_column][/vc_column][/vc_row]

The Emerging Trends That Will Redefine Logistics Outsourcing in 2023

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_custom_heading text=”Introduction” el_id=”Introduction”][vc_column_text]Disruptive forces are continuously at play, transforming how industries embrace technology, conduct businesses, and evolve with time. The last few years have been particularly difficult for the logistics sector as market trends have had a significant impact. From large-scale supply chain interruptions brought on by Covid-19 to the infamous Ever Given saga, the shipping and logistics industry has seen it all. Nevertheless, the logistics industry has to keep moving forward since it is the backbone of the global economy. The industry leaders are preparing to usher in a new era of logistics outsourcing, with technologies, new practices, and evolving regulations showing the way.[/vc_column_text][vc_custom_heading text=”Top 6 Shipping and Logistics Industry Trends Dominating 2023″ el_id=”Top-6-Shipping-And-Logistics-Industry-Trends-Dominating-2023″][vc_column_text]Here are the top 6 shipping and logistics industry trends disrupting the sector.[/vc_column_text][vc_custom_heading text=”#1 Skills Gap and Logistics Outsourcing” font_container=”tag:h3|text_align:left”][vc_column_text]New technology has transformed the way supply chains operate, and it has blurred the distinction between white and blue-collar jobs. Now, supply chain leaders are looking for new collar employees, candidates who bring the right mix of technical and physical skills to succeed in a digitally transforming logistics environment.

The shortage of such candidates has created a skills gap. Couple that with the ongoing labor shortage and it adds up to 2.1 million critical jobs by 2030 (if not more). To address that, employers in the shipping and logistics industry are scrambling for new avenues of recruitment and talent acquisition. 

A smart strategy is to collaborate with virtual staffing companies that employ the best remote new-collar employees all set to sync in with logistics organizations. From logistics coordinators to data entry specialists to order management experts, a virtual staffing company makes hiring a cakewalk![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_single_image image=”56268″ img_size=”full” onclick=”custom_link” link=”javascript:void(0)” el_class=”OBServiceGuidesDownload”][vc_wp_text]

[/vc_wp_text][vc_custom_heading text="#2 Cloud-based Systems and Integrations" font_container="tag:h3|text_align:left"][vc_column_text]Cloud services in logistics are applications that help manage and optimize various aspects of the supply chain, such as transportation, inventory, and warehousing. 

It can provide real-time visibility of goods movement, inventory levels, and order status across the supply chain network. This enables logistics managers to monitor and control their operations more effectively and efficiently. For example, UPS uses Google Cloud's smart analytics to save $400 million a year by optimizing routes, reducing fuel consumption, and improving customer service.

Moreover, cloud services can dramatically improve collaboration and integration with freight partners, carriers, customers, and suppliers through cloud-based platforms and APIs. Oracle, for example, has already demonstrated capacity enhancement with Uber Freight by connecting shippers with carriers on demand.

Cloud services in logistics have proven to deliver significant value for supply chain management. According to a report by DFreight, cloud computing can save up to 40% of logistics costs and increase revenue by 25%. 

All of these benefits will drive wider cloud adaptation in the logistics industry in 2023.[/vc_column_text][vc_custom_heading text="#3 Real-time Analytics and Tracking" font_container="tag:h3|text_align:left"][vc_column_text]Supply chain processes face many challenges, such as fluctuating demands, changing routes, major disruptions, and compliance issues. Therefore, they need to be monitored and optimized continuously. 

RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) is an emerging technology to decode big data in supply chains since RFID tags are used throughout the supply chain process. This includes scanning through raw materials, transporting/relocating goods, and warehouse management, with accuracy and speed. Real-time analytics utilizes this live information to provide insights, leading to improved decision-making.

To improve delivery procedures, more and more shipping businesses are collaborating with data scientists. They can leverage key information to gain a clear understanding of important influencing elements like traffic, weather, etc, to further optimize delivery systems and provide precise arrival times to warehouses and customers.[/vc_column_text][vc_custom_heading text="#4 Environmental Sustainability" font_container="tag:h3|text_align:left"][vc_column_text]The logistics and shipping industry accounts for over 80% of world trade and more than one billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year. 

Well, that is roughly equivalent to the emissions of the top five emitting countries combined. Yes, you read that right! 

The industry also emits other greenhouse gases, such as methane and nitrous oxide, which have a higher global warming potential than CO2.

Reducing Scope 3 emissions has been a key part of corporate ESG goals for a long time. 

In 2023, this will likely become more important as regulators and other stakeholders will probably require more action and transparency on this issue. Global banking institutions, private equity, and venture capitalists are increasingly aligning their portfolios with sustainable organizations.

One way to get around this is that transportation and logistics operations transform their modus operandi and adopt greener solutions. The use of parcel collection-point networks, which reduce the distance between consumers, is one of the burgeoning strategies being used by logistics companies to reduce carbon emissions.[/vc_column_text][vc_custom_heading text="#5 Automation & Predictive Analytics" font_container="tag:h3|text_align:left"][vc_column_text]Automation and predictive analytics are emerging techs that are radically transforming the logistics and shipping industry. They enable the industry to optimize its operations, reduce costs, improve customer satisfaction, and enhance sustainability. 

Automation can increase efficiency, accuracy, safety, and productivity while minimizing human errors, labor costs, and resource wastage. For instance, Amazon has already started robots to move goods around its warehouses and drones to deliver packages to customers.

On the other hand, predictive analytics can help the logistics industry use data and artificial intelligence to predict demand and supply shocks, plan routes, monitor performance and quality, and minimize risks and disruptions. For instance, UPS has demonstrated the fact that predictive analytics can optimize its delivery routes while saving fuel and time.[/vc_column_text][vc_custom_heading text="Burgeoning Challenges for the Logistics Industry - How to Mitigate Them?" el_id="Burgeoning-Challenges-For-The-Logistics-Industry-How-To-Mitigate-Them-?"][vc_single_image image="56269" img_size="full"][vc_custom_heading text="1. Increasing Implementation of Blockchain - Should You Join The Bandwagon?" font_container="tag:h3|text_align:left"][vc_single_image image="56505" img_size="full" onclick="custom_link" img_link_target="_blank" link="https://calendly.com/officebeacon"][vc_column_text]Blockchain technology is a game-changer for logistics, as it offers secure and efficient management of supply chain operations. Blockchain solutions can provide complete transparency, prevent fraud, enhance the safety of products, simplify verification processes, minimize paperwork, and enable real-time traceability.

Imagine letting the customers know where their organic food was cultivated. Or, what if you can trace the source of affected products and choosing not to order them next time? These are small examples of what blockchain technology can do for the logistics sector. 

Verifiable credentials, for instance, are a modern method of safely storing and disseminating product and confidential business information. These are digital certificates that utilize blockchain technology and encryption to make them instantaneously verifiable and fraud-proof.[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image="56273" img_size="full"][vc_custom_heading text="2. Cybersecurity and Data Breaches" font_container="tag:h3|text_align:left"][vc_column_text]2023 will witness cyber criminals increasingly using sophisticated tricks to infiltrate supply chains to damage/steal from businesses. Traditional supply chains are typically vulnerable to cyber threats. New-age cyber criminals can also hack through basic warehouse gear such as barcode readers or IoT (Internet of Things) devices. 

This can disrupt the flow of goods, compromise data integrity, and expose sensitive information. According to a report by BCG, cyber attacks used to occur every few years in the transportation and logistics sector, but now there seem to be one or two each month.

In recent years, major cyber risks have plagued the sector including ransomware, sensor & industrial technology, and phishing. The cost of cyber attacks can be significant, not only in terms of ransom payments and business losses but also in terms of reputation damage and customer trust. 

For the unversed, a cyber attack in May 2021 triggered a week-long shutdown of the Colonial Pipeline, which supplies gasoline to almost half of the east coast of the United States.

To mitigate this, the stakeholders of the industry must conduct a cyber assessment for all functions/activities within the supply chain using IoT devices (especially those with direct access to sensitive information and wider systems). 

Another important aspect is to train employees on the risks of opening dubious emails or clicking unfamiliar URLs, links, or attachments since they will shape the future of global logistics. Criminals often imitate email addresses, and invoices, while using text messaging to get access to sensitive information. Logistics personnel must be alert to such nefarious attempts.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_custom_heading text="3. Embracing Creative Solutions with a Freight Forwarder" font_container="tag:h3|text_align:left"][vc_column_text]Freight forwarding is going digital. Imagine a future where advanced analytics, digital front ends, and robotics work in tandem with integrated back-end operations. Sounds exciting, right? But not everyone is ready for this change. How fast and how well the logistics industry embraces these technologies will depend on how much they understand the potential of streamlining and simplifying operations.

As per Allied Market Research on global logistics trends, the digital freight forward market will grow from $2.92 billion in 2020 to $22.9 billion in 2030, growing at a staggering pace of 23% per annum, with 2023 being a crucial year for innovation.

In another survey by McKinsey, it was found that 90% of supply chain leaders have invested in digital tech for advanced planning, and 80% will continue to do so in 2023 and beyond. GPS tracking and real-time data are becoming the norm in logistics to ensure that shipments are delivered within the stipulated time frame.

To ride this wave, industry leaders need to be agile, flexible, and visible – and digitalization can help them achieve that. They should not ignore this opportunity with freight forwarders.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_custom_heading text="4. Reducing Emissions by Adopting Greener Technologies" font_container="tag:h3|text_align:left"][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]To reduce their environmental impact, logistics companies need to adopt greener technologies that can make their operations more efficient, economical, and eco-friendly. Some of the green technologies trends that are transforming the logistics industry are:

  1. Voyage optimization, which uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to plan the best routes and speeds for ships based on weather and maritime conditions
  2. Cargo delivery drones, can deliver packages faster and cheaper than traditional vehicles, while avoiding traffic congestion and emissions.
  3. Green cold chain, which uses renewable energy sources and smart sensors to power and monitor refrigerated containers.
  4. Electric cargo vehicles are ideal for urban deliveries, as they are emission-free, agile, and cost-effective.

By implementing these green technologies, logistics companies can not only reduce their carbon footprint, but also improve their customer satisfaction, profitability, and competitiveness.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_custom_heading text="5. Efficiently Handling Returns in Logistics" font_container="tag:h3|text_align:left"][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]With surging e-commerce activities in the post-pandemic era, the volume of returned products has witnessed explosive growth. This is driving demand for efficient and cost-effective reverse logistics solutions that seamlessly handle returned goods.

However, this can pose a challenge for the logistics industry. According to a Salescycle report, 30% of shoppers consciously over-purchase and then return items. Retail giants like Amazon monitor accounts reaching concession limits and could reject returns on orders from habitual returners, but smaller retailers may not have the advanced systems in place to do the same.

The shipping and logistics industry has started to factor in such returns and invest in return logistics solutions and it is going to be a major trend in 2023 and beyond.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_single_image image="56507" img_size="full"][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_custom_heading text="6. Russia-Ukraine War & Other Geopolitical Tensions" font_container="tag:h3|text_align:left"][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]The war in Ukraine between Russia and its Western-backed opponents has created a major disruption in global trade and international supply chains. One unlikely victim is the logistics sector, disrupting the movement of goods and materials across borders as well as logistics outsourcing. The unwanted conflict has spiked freight charges and led to container shortages.

Similarly, the ongoing geopolitical tension between China and the United States is snowballing into trade policy changes and tighter regulations, (such as tariffs, sanctions, and embargoes). This can disrupt the logistics industry since they are the largest economies. 

As importers observe and adapt, they are quickly learning that transacting from a single source is a lethal mistake in the long term. For example, during the Los Angeles Longshoreman strike (2012), many importers switched from the Port of Los Angeles to multiple East Coast ports to avoid detention fees (running into thousands of dollars). Similarly, as the United States decouples from China, the entire supply chain can transform with the incorporation of smaller countries. 

The only problem? 

Most of the supply chain infrastructure is still dominated by the US, China, and a handful of other developed economies. 

Take this for example. The bulk shipping market expanded at a meager CAGR of just 1.3% between 2015-2020. The growth rates will hover around 0.8% until 2030, with declining Chinese demand for coal and iron ore being the prime factor.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_custom_heading text="Logistics Outsourcing Trends" el_id="Logistics-Outsourcing-Trends"][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Many companies in the global logistics industry are opting to hire third-party logistics (3PL) providers to handle their logistics functions. This reflects a surging trend in the logistics outsourcing demand.

According to Research And Markets, it is expected to grow at a 4.77% CAGR from 2021 to 2027. This report on the logistics outsourcing market examines the performance of the major regions such as North America, Europe, and Asia-Pacific.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_custom_heading text="Wrapping Up" el_id="Wrapping-Up"][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Any multinational business' success depends heavily on logistics and how competent they are with logistics outsourcing. Despite challenges, the logistics industry has enormous growth potential for 2023 and beyond. With AI, IoT, blockchains, and other advance solutions dominating the shipping and logistics trends, the industry is on the cusp of ushering in a new era. Looking ahead, it is clear that blending with these emerging tech trends will help logistics businesses stay ahead of the curve top.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_single_image image="56508" img_size="full" onclick="custom_link" img_link_target="_blank" link="https://calendly.com/officebeacon"][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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