Quality shipping and logistics providers integrate technology into their infrastructure to improve customer service — not just their overhead.

Recent advances in shipping and logistics technology have enabled third-party logistics (3PL) companies and integrated logistics services providers (ISPs) to digitize their infrastructure. As e-commerce places greater demands on the industry, savvy providers will need to leverage these emerging capabilities to drive more value and ROI. Indeed, investments in artificial intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things (IoT) are already laying the groundwork for strategic 3PLs and ISPs to excel in the 21st century.

However, as a shipper, you need to be paying careful attention to where that value and ROI is being driven. In other words, is your 3PL making strategic investments in technology to benefit you — the client — or are they solely interested in bolstering their own bottom line?

The 2017 Annual Third-Party Logistic Study provides an overview of industry trends, confirming that new technologies shouldn’t encourage runaway automation. Best-in-class 3PLs and ISPs will be digitizing their shipping and logistics infrastructure in order to improve customer service, strategic decision-making, and cost efficiency for their partners — not to offload their own responsibilities.

Incorporating Customers into Decision-Making

Intelligent logistics networks should improve supply chain transparency for providers and shippers. After all, 71% of shippers surveyed in the study agreed that real-time analytics from 3PLs and ISPs helped them better understand their options at every stage of the shipping process.

While some providers may see AI and IoT as opportunities to automate key decision-making processes, strategic business partners know that there’s no substitute for expertise and creativity in the often-unpredictable world of shipping and logistics. Ultimately, new technologies shouldn’t be replacing human experience and intuition; rather, 3PLs and ISPs should leverage them to enhance their teams’ ability to make better decisions for their partners.

Optimizing Value through Customer Service

Business partnerships rise and fall based on the quality of communication between shipper and provider. As a result, 3PLs and ISPs have historically had to devote time, resources, and personnel to fielding client queries.

As tempting as it may be, the integration of AI and IoT into supply chains shouldn’t be an invitation to automate this process. Instead, smarter shipping and logistics networks should empower 3PLs and ISPs to improve answers to customer concerns — both in quality and response time — while keeping them informed of any developments. The survey respondents tend to agree: 86% of shippers and 98% of providers believe that working with a 3PL has helped them offer more effective customer service. With the right 3PL or ISP, these working relationships should drive up value — not costs.

Investing in Tech Responsibly

Shippers should be on the lookout for partners who invest in emerging technologies in order to develop more efficient infrastructure, rather than simply to increase their profit margins. Similarly, 3PLs and ISPs should stress that their strategic plans for digital networks are designed, first and foremost, to deliver a better ROI for their clients.

Fortunately, the study suggests that shippers and logistics providers are largely on the same page. With 73% of shippers commending providers for streamlining logistics through technological investment and 90% of providers confirming that their goal is to leverage new tech to improve internal operations as well as client-facing capabilities, it’s clear that resilient partnerships are based on shared priorities.

Boosting ROI with Primary Freight

Choosing a 3PL or ISP is challenging, especially in an industry with so many hidden costs and potential risks. Primary Freight is strategically positioned to offer the flexibility and customer service of a small, nimble firm alongside the advanced technological infrastructure and expansive shipping shipping network of a major operation. Our team combines this cutting-edge technology with more than 20 years of experience in shipping and logistics to deliver award-winning customer service to our partners across the globe.

If you’d like to learn more about Primary Freight’s array of services and capabilities, contact us today at (800) 635-0013.