The past two years have seen a lot of chaos and challenges for pretty much everyone, but especially the logistics and transportation industries. COVID-19 and the ensuing challenges such as major supply chain hiccups, worker shortages, etc. will continue into 2022.  

What does this look like for the new year? Here are some of our predictions of trends we will see in the logistics and transportation industries in 2022.  

Driver shortage will continue  

The truck driver shortage has long been documented — and was worsening each year – before COVID even hit. As drivers get tired of the demand, age out, or find other reasons to leave the industry, leaders in the trucking industry are not able to fill in the spaces behind them.  

“The problem is that there aren’t enough trucks or drivers. According to Forbes, there is one qualified driver for every 9 job postings,” reads this article from Bringg. “Not only that, the small trucking companies have little to no incentives to increase capacity due to rising prices, stopping them from investing in new trucks.” 

Customers going national, delivery going local 

Customers have figured out that they can buy pretty much anything online and have it shipped to their doorstep, often within a day or two. This includes big and bulky items, such as furniture. To be efficient and meet customer urgency demands, companies are finding that they must be more regional and local in their delivery efforts. We are already seeing the increased regional warehouse construction, the biggest companies are taking their last mile efforts internally, and smaller companies are resorting to final mile delivery services to stay competitive.  

Instead of losing that sale and harming brand loyalty, companies need to do whatever is necessary to fulfill the order. That will require companies that previously were locally or regionally focused to plug into a national distribution network by either expanding their own fleets or partnering with other third-party logistics (3PL) companies to handle the last mile,” according to this article in Blue Book Services.  

Applying technology along the whole route 

There seems to be countless indications that the supply chain members that employ various technologies, including robotics and AI, will come out more successful. This includes using technology along the entire supply chain, including the middle-mile. In fact, with the increase in the need to utilize LTL (Less Than Load, i.e., not waiting to make deliveries until a truck is full), what used to be considered “middle mile” has now become last mile.  

Sustainability must become more sustainable 

It seems like this is a trend every year, but every year it’s approached a bit differently. This year, we think the industry sustainability efforts will focus on reducing carbon emissions and other environmental efficiencies related to vehicles. A big change we are seeing is the move to fleet electrification. Also, you will see more automated routes and order batching in 2022.  

Improved reverse logistics  

When the e-commerce world exploded with the arrival of COVID, it became painfully clear there were insufficiencies along the supply chain. We’ve talked about reverse or return logistics on our blog before, but that part of the supply chain will get special focus in 2022.  

According to McMurray Stern in this article, “(t)he growth of the e-commerce industry has increased demand for efficient returns and buybacks that can help companies sell returned items faster while driving up revenue on used goods. Businesses are now beginning to move their reverse supply chains closer to the customer to speed up the process and cut costs.”  

Let us help 

Is your business evolving to need reliable delivery or courier services? We offer customized, professional logistics services in Arkansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, and Kansas. We can help your company serve customers anywhere in our service area.