Woman is shopping online with digital tablet

How Consumer Behavior Influences Businesses

Offline shopping is becoming obsolete, as Americans are increasingly shopping online.  According to a survey by UPS, 51 percent of purchases were made online in 2016.  Consumer’s expectations of distribution companies are rising.  This is due, in large part, to Amazon Prime which has set the standard for 2-day delivery.  Now, customers expect their items delivered within a few days tops and if other companies want to stay competitive they are forced to follow suit.

According to BigCommerce, an online e-commerce and shopping cart platform, e-commerce is growing 23% per year yet 46% of American small businesses do not have a website.  An online presence is necessary for transportation companies or they will be left in the dust.  Customers expect to be able to see real-time updates on delivery status and get a response quickly to any questions or complaints.

To keep up with the fast-paced industry, distribution companies must implement technology into their business model.  Logistics have historically been haunted by bad communication and slow response times.  Today, companies are implementing technology to improve these aspects.  Software, such as FlashView, allows managers to consolidate all aspects of the supply chain into one place, making it easier to manage the whole operation.

Companies are applying technology that allows for better tracking of packages.  The delivery process has become much more transparent.  Apps and websites are available for customers to track their packages each step of the way.

Technology is often implemented in trucks to alert managers and truckdrivers of the truck’s needs.  This decreases the number of breakdowns and extends the truck’s life.  Disruptions and issues are also solved faster with technology.  The source of a problem can be easily pinpointed and solutions are provided within seconds.  By implementing technology, managers gain a more comprehensive understanding of their on-road operations.

Distribution companies must pay mind to data and analytics to guarantee the process is running as smoothly as possible.  Analytics can discover trends, identify recurring problems, and recognize cost savings within the supply chain.  Data can help companies to better plan, monitor, and execute their operations.  Data is everywhere, and for companies to stay competitive they must utilize it.

Bernard Marr, bestselling author, and Big Data guru explains that “there’s certainly reason for the 8.7 million people employed within the U.S. trucking industry to be concerned about how self-driving trucks will impact their livelihood.”  Driverless cars have been talked about for years and are inching closer and closer every day to becoming a reality.  By eliminating the need for a driver, distributors would address the driver shortage, as well as improve safety by eliminating the possibility of driver fatigue.  Although the thought of driverless cars is scary to truck drivers, they would be nothing short of advantageous for companies.

Several companies have tested driverless cars on the open road.  Local Motors used IBM’s Internet of Things technology to create a driverless shuttle bus, which boarded its first passengers on the streets of a shopping district just outside Washington, D.C.  Automated vehicles are being refined and will be ready to hit the roads soon.

In the upcoming years, giant leaps will be made within the transportation industry.  Delivery expectations will only increase, and customers will become even more impatient when expecting a delivery.  Today, many companies even offer same-day delivery for an added cost.  Amazon announced Prime Air, a new program that will deliver packages by drone to shoppers within 30 minutes of their order.  If this proves successful, it would be a major hit on the transportation industry, decreasing or even eliminating the need for truck deliveries.  UPS, DHL, and FedEx are experimenting with robotics in the loading and unloading process of irregular parcels.  This would increase efficiency and decrease wage expenses.  The companies with the most innovative and effective ideas will rise ahead of their competitors.

Transportation companies are at a crucial point.  They are increasingly being called upon to deliver more goods at a much faster rate than ever before.  Distributors must implement technology into their logistics and transportation processes to keep up with the rising competition.