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International Forwarding Association Blog » News » 4 Logistics Trends to Watch for in 2021

4 Logistics Trends to Watch for in 2021

2020 has been a challenging and difficult year for global populations. The changes in how we live, work, and connect with others have been fundamental, with a shift to digital and the proliferation of Internet commerce. Other areas such as economic growth and fighting global poverty took a step back. The logistics industry has been one of the most impacted by the global pandemic, and some interesting trends have surfaced. From contactless deliveries and omnichannel services to green logistics, demand for refrigerated goods, and robotic process automation, here are some of the trends to watch for.

  1. Contactless Deliveries and Omnichnnel Services

Today customers demand flexibility and speed. Logistics companies that can provide an omnichannel experience will be best positioned on the market. Whether shopping at a physical store or online, customers want options – curbside pickup or in-store pickup options, delivery options, or picking up products at another location.

Logistics, sales, and marketing departments combine efforts to offer a seamless and more personalized experience. The goal is to speed up and synchronize distribution across multiple sales channels.  Examples of omnichannel services are: buy online, return online; buy online, return online or at store; dropship from a manufacturing facility or warehouse to home, store, or another location; purchase in-store, have it delivered to the home; and buy online, pick up at a physical store.

Contactless deliveries are also the new normal as customers want to minimize physical contact.


  1. Robotic Process Automation

Robotic technologies are increasingly replacing manual processes to meet customer demand. Manufacturers and suppliers are struggling to ship a growing volume of orders as many are working and shopping from home. To improve efficiency, more and more logistics companies opt for process automation solutions for shipment status communication, order processing, smart documentation, inventory control, and shipment tracking. Smart documentation software includes multiple capabilities such as automatic storing in audit trails, electronic data exchange, credit collections, and invoice processing. Shipment tracking programs can be used to track delivery, reload, and pickup status for suppliers and external customers.


  1. Green Logistics

Green logistics not only contributes to environmental protection but increases customer loyalty. As the shipping sector is a major contributor to pollution, forwarders are increasingly embracing green logistics for both small shipments and larger volumes. The goal is to minimize the harmful impact of logistics processes through load and route optimization, more efficient packing, and advanced IT support.


  1. Refrigerated Goods

The world’s population is expected to reach 11 billion by 2100, resulting in an increased demand for refrigerated goods. OEMs, forwarders, and carriers need to get ready to ship pharmaceuticals, beverages, and foods through refrigerated transport. The global pandemic also contributed to easier and quicker trialing, with vaccine and drug trials being underway in many parts of the world. As many pharmaceutical companies are outsourcing their functions, products need to be transported from manufacturing centers to distribution facilities through controlled and regulated methods.