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The unprecedented repercussions of the Coronavirus pandemic have been a huge blow to the US economy in 2020, and the trucking industry has been no different. As we dust ourselves off and move towards a new year, it’s important to know what we’re up against. The North American Commercial Vehicle Outlook forecasts that 2021 will be a year of transition as economies move from the negative impacts of the pandemic towards a much better situation in 2022. A guide to starting a trucking company shows that the $791+ billion US trucking industry is expected to grow 27% over the next decade. If you look at the bigger picture, the industry has been growing throughout the 21st century even with ups and downs caused by various conditions. This is because of the industry’s capacity to adapt to the changing needs of the time. So, below we will discuss some trucking industry trends to look out for in 2021 to help your business adapt to the changes. Growth of the E-Commerce Industry 72.5% of all freight in the US is transported by trucks, and that won’t change any time soon. As 2021 is expected to be the year when the economy slowly bounces back from the unexpected economic downturn, the demand for truckers will only increase, according to transportation trends. The increased preference for e-commerce will definitely play a part in this demand. E-commerce is at an all-time high as a result of lockdowns, retail closures and travel bans that has forced consumers online. Having realized the ease and convenience of online shopping, 2021 will see a continuation of this trend. Retailers will expect fast and reliable shipping of their products to customers. Retailers are also becoming more flexible with how they transact with consumers by decentralizing their distribution networks and bringing their inventory closer to customers. For the trucking industry, this could mean an increase in interstate and local hauls, which is a trend that has been growing since 2000. SMART Technology and Electronic Records Technology has caused improvements to a number of industries and the trucking industry is no exception. Corporate offices have been rolling out software that make their operations more efficient and streamline. More trucks are also beginning to use more SMART technology. This ties into with the rise of e-commerce, as more customers are demanding information on the status of their packages through ‘tracking orders’. Thus, there is an increased use of electronic records to keep track of goods being carried and conveying this information to consumers. Flexible Supply Chain Fulfillment Supply chains will need to be nimble in reacting to consumer needs as their demand increases. Flexibility is key in this very unpredictable landscape, as the industry will need to pivot according to changing market needs and demands. As much as we try to predict, there is no knowing for sure what 2021 will have in store for the industry. However we can ensure that the processes we have in place are agile. In order to be flexible, there needs to be cohesion within the different actors in the supply chain, especially between the drivers, dispatchers and brokers. Each role is unique yet supports the overall freight goal. Overall, communication is key to achieve efficiency and accountability across the supply chain.
Written only for freightgirlz.com | Words by Isabel Craig