COVID-19 affected the warehousing industry just like every other field. From supply chain disruptions to e-commerce growth, worker safety, and technology innovation, warehousing will continue to evolve next year. Here are some of the trends to watch.
2021 Warehousing, Supply Chain, Logistics Trends
The rise of e-commerce as a primary shopping mechanism is a big story affecting warehousing next year. Dropshipping has expanded, allowing manufacturers to control their supply chain and increase profits. Factory shutdowns affected the availability of goods earlier in the year, but for the most part, has resumed to something resembling normalcy. Watch for consumer demand and expectations around fast shipping of ordered goods to only increase and normalize next year.
Returns and reverse logistics will continue to scale up next year. The volume of e-commerce purchases means that the number of product returns will remain high. This forces organizations to establish better return policies set up quarantine of returned goods, and even increase the speed in which they check products for resale worthiness. Companies that lack a warehouse management system to handle this volume will struggle.
Batch pick and sort will rule the day thanks to unprecedented e-commerce activity. More warehouses and fulfillment companies will adopt this approach to improve quality and speed processing.
Technology will continue to affect the industry. Look for the big industry players like Amazon, to continue to adopt artificial intelligence software to automate manual functions. This saves a huge amount of time and improves the efficiency of the workforce. Internet of Things sensors will track everything from trucks to boxes to people and robotic automation will increase. New technology designed to keep workers safe will continue to expand. New wearable devices will make their way into safety vests that track employee ergonomics to help cut down on workers’ compensation claims.
Don’t look for social distancing measures to lift until well after the COVID-19 vaccine is widely accepted by the general population. Warehouse managers will continue to provide workers with PPEs, require social distancing, and other safety measures to comply with local and state restrictions. Expect the necessity of allowing workers to function in specially designated areas will continue through spring 2020.
Smart supply chains will continue to be agile to function well and absorb any shocks in the new year. Unpredictable demand will be just as difficult to respond to as rolling factory shutdowns, so organizations must continue to keep flexibility as part of their strategic imperative.
This agility should include the worker supply chain. Look for warehouses to form more partnerships with staffing companies next year to keep a steady supply of workers available for order fulfillment. That’s where PrideStaff can help. Our experienced team offers our clients a steady supply of reliable workers to handle the challenges of the COVID crisis. Talk with us today to find out more.