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Four Logistics Trends to Watch in 2024

What will shape the logistics industry in 2024? What about in 2030 and beyond? Here’s an insider’s look at four key trends from the world’s leading logistics company.

Mitigating risk, increasing visibility, changing the game, and going green

The logistics industry is constantly evolving, so staying ahead of the curve is crucial. But it’s also a multifaceted industry, which is why we, as DHL Group, have built expertise in the parcel, express, freight, supply chain, and e-commerce businesses across five corporate divisions. The many sides of logistics also mean the trend outlook can vary between our express and supply chain businesses, for example. That’s why our divisions keep an eye on the unique trends in their businesses. Look for links to their trend forecasts under “Dive Deeper” below.

That being said, as a Group, we closely monitor the logistics trends that transcend our divisions – check out our DHL Logistics Trend Radar to see the dozens of trends we’re following.

The four logistics trends we highlight here are not new – but we believe those who embrace them will gain a competitive edge. Let’s dive in.

Logistics in 2024: Resilience remains an overarching goal

“Resilience” has been one of the buzzwords in logistics for several years now – ever since Covid-19 caused worldwide supply chain disruptions. The year 2023 was no different, making robust supply chains and stable logistics flows top priorities. Innovative technologies helped stabilize the industry, largely avoiding supply chain bottlenecks despite the ongoing war in Ukraine and new sources of conflict. Remaining focused on an approach that favors supply chain diversification and harnesses the trends below will be critical to success in 2024 and beyond.

Logistics trend 1: Big data helps mitigate supply chain risks

We’ve been following this technology trend for years, but big data analytics has never played a more powerful role in logistics. State-of-the-art analytics and the increasing availability of data is created unprecedented capabilities. In the face of global uncertainties and complex supply networks, big data analytics will be an essential tool in 2024 for anticipating disruptions and optimizing supply chains to mitigate risks and ensure operational resilience.

We leverage big data analytics across our business and collaborate with partners like Everstream, a supply chain risk analytics company, to stay ahead of potential disruptions.

In 2024, we expect to see more and more businesses turning to big data to predict risks and help make their supply chains more agile.

If you’re interested in supply chain risks, don’t miss Everstream’s 2024 supply chain forecast.

Logistics trend 2: IoT increases supply chain visibility

Like big data, the Internet of Things (IoT) is also nothing new to logistics and supply chain management. But if you’re unfamiliar with it, here’s a brief history and some insights into how it’s adding value to supply chains.

Saying IoT is revolutionizing supply chain management is not an understatement – it’s fast becoming one of our most essential tools. Why? IoT is generating the data we need for analytics – and providing us with unprecedented visibility and connectivity. It allows us to connect every link in the supply chain, from vehicles and shipments to warehouses and personnel, using sensor technology and cloud applications. This interconnectedness enables a more transparent, efficient, and responsive supply chain, paving the way for a smarter logistics landscape.

Smart labels are an example of an IoT-enabled technology that will make a big impact on the logistics industry soon. We believe the next generation of smart labels – which we call “Smart Printables” – will allow us to do things we couldn’t before, and on a global scale.

Logistics trend 3: Artificial intelligence becomes a game-changer

After ChatGPT took the world by storm in 2022, artificial intelligence (AI) dominated the tech world in 2023. There’s still a lot of hype out there, but the potential of AI to transform the logistics industry is real. We’re already seeing the benefits of humans collaborating with AI in logistics and exploring the usefulness of generative AI in the workplace.

AI’s ability to analyze data, learn from past experiences, and predict future outcomes goes far beyond ChatGPT and is becoming a game-changer. In 2024, we expect capabilities to expand into more areas of logistics. We’re sure to see meaningful advancements in route planning, demand forecasting, asset management, and more.

AI will likely make inventory management much smarter, as AI technologies enable optimized stock levels by more accurately predicting customer demand. Advances in AI are also making computer vision an industry-shaping tool that our Innovation & Trend Research team believes will become standard in the logistics industry standard within the next five years.

AI adoption rate in supply chain and manufacturing Worldwide in 2022 and 2025

Source: Statista

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Logistics trend 4: Sustainability takes center stage

In recent years and across nearly every industry, sustainability has become much more than a major trend. It is now an essential part of business. In 2024, sustainable logistics will continue to move from an environmental imperative to a key economic success factor. Many executives have fully embedded environmental, social, and governance factors into their business – including basing decisions on their partners’ sustainability practices. There’s mounting pressure to reduce the carbon footprint up and down the supply chain.

As one of the largest emitters of greenhouse gases, the logistics industry must play a vital role. In the near term, the focal point will be on green solutions like alternative fuels and electric vehicles – and customers will see more opportunities to reduce transport emissions by purchasing sustainable aviation fuel or sustainable marine fuel through book and claim systems.

Logistics Trend Radar 6.0 Explained – Alternative Energy Solutions

2024 and beyond: Tech and sustainability go hand in hand

As we look ahead, it is evident that technology and sustainability are becoming increasingly interconnected. AI has the potential to significantly enhance the efficiency and sustainability of logistics processes by optimizing operations and reducing resource consumption. This synergy is pivotal to the future of logistics, as it enables companies to achieve both operational excellence and environmental stewardship.

The year 2024 will provide valuable insights into how these trends will continue to evolve and shape the logistics industry. As an industry leader, we are embracing these changes, driving innovation, and fostering more efficient and sustainable logistics.

Dive deeper

Our freight experts have also flagged AI as the top trend in 2024 that will impact automation, networking, visibility, and sustainability. Find out more here: Which direction for AI?

The team at DHL Supply Chain has a crystal ball of its own. Take a look at supply chain trends they see shaping this year – including friend-shoring, cybersecurity, and third-party logistics.

The first iteration of this article was released on our Discover blog, where DHL Express offers business and logistics insights for small and medium-sized enterprises. Find it here.

Looking for more trends in logistics?

Discover the key technology, business, and social trends the DHL Trend Research team has been monitoring – and the projected impact in the next five to ten years.

Published: February 2024

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