As a college-educated computer scientist, Bastian Späth understands how IT solutions are developed from the ground up. For more than 15 years, he has spent every workday collecting requirements, finding ideas, developing designs, setting up projects and getting them safely across the finish line.
Logistics trends in 2021: more digital customer service every day
Digitalisation surged throughout Germany in 2020. The year has ended, but the trend is still going strong in logistics. The industry is focused on automating and coordinating processes across company boundaries. Transparent status communication in particular plays a big role in excellent customer service.
As logistics service providers continue to digitalisetheir processes, they are working to automate as many routine tasks as possible. Their goal is to stabilise processes. That also gives them the freedom to devote their full attention to process disruptions. For this to succeed, they have to:
- Connect data sources
- Link multiple stakeholders in a single point of truth
- Proactively transfer status information to the stakeholder system
Together, these measures can successfully form an overall logistics process that not only leverages their full potential but also takes their customer service to a new, automated level – the two most important logistics trends in 2021.
Modern interfaces support logistics trends
The most important thing to do when automating logistics processes is to integrate all the data sources that are relevant to the process. You need a truly seamless process in order to always have all the data you need at the right time. Modern interface types have been developed for this very purpose that allow data to be dynamically provisioned in a single point of truth: application programming interfaces (API), web services, and event sourcing platforms. Their task is to provide data on an event-driven basis each time a status change occurs and to share it with the process stakeholders. They allow statuses to be communicated automatically in real time.
Real-time status without research
If you want to stand out as a logistics service provider and be recommended for complex logistics chains, you will make shipment statuses available to your customers in real time. Ideally, you will do this both in your own service portals and directly in the customers' operational systems. This is done using callback URLs that immediately report any change in status. Customers do not need to log into any additional systems; the information is sent directly to their planning systems.
Customer portals structure communication
More and more logistics service providers are setting up their own service portals to handle all questions other than basic status enquiries. The portals provide all important order data as well as information such as rates, documents and statistical analyses. Customers may even be able to create their own report types from this information depending on their authorisation level. The data can be accessed 24/7, regardless of the freight forwarder's business hours. A service portal serves as a single point of truth in communication between the customer and the service provider. It contains all the relevant order data; every communication can refer to the same data records. This imposes a structure on service enquiry responses and is efficient and transparent for everyone. The portal's management console lets logistics service providers do more than just create and activate users. They can also decide who can access what modules, and what user rights are assigned in those modules.
Automated workflows for better customer service
The main digitalisation challenges facing the logistics industry in 2021 include the integration of users and data sources. The more extensively all processes and participants are connected, the more processes can be automated. Furthermore, the more deeply service providers are integrated in their customers' processes, the broader their service offerings can be. And those are two trends that are driving the overall efficiency of logistics processes.