Congratulations and welcome to 2021! With the havoc 2020 caused, can shipping trends get any worse? The short answer? Yes. According to Supply Chain Brief, “In such an environment, no one can truly predict what is going to happen. Yet they can be prepared for these transformative events; ready in such a way that they can even thrive on anomalies in a way that the competition will struggle to keep up with.” And demands for 2021 already reveal strife in procurement in the shipping industry and visibility through all operations, including carrier troubles. Preparation becomes the name of the game in shipping trends, and being ahead becomes the new normal. If a business wants to “thrive” in 2021 abnormalities, it’s essential to consider the top trends to expect through the year.

Shipping trends will include increased calls for more transparency

Carriers should know what transparency means for their consumers and network relationships, according to the Harvard Business Review. Knowing where all the products come from and have been shipped to is necessary for a reputable business. More carriers can see the shipping trends of various products every year, but acting on the hot-button demands remains troublesome. As such, seeing signals and indices that reflect the real trucking market conditions will be critical to avoiding over-extension of your fleet and drivers. Plus, macroeconomic indicators will boost transparency and gain shippers’ trust. Remember that if the shipper can’t trust the trucking business, sales fall. Being more open about sustainable transport services or even third-party companies used can very well give a boost in shippers’ confidence now and in the future.

2021 trends will further reflect the necessity for data-driven decision-making

After seeing some unexpected shipping trends last year, 2021 will make no difference in the long-term outlook unless carriers learn from their mistakes. Seeing the shipping trends for 2021 will be incredibly important since COVID-19 vaccines will be shipped under intense scrutiny. The vaccines are a logistics challenge that even the most experienced professionals may struggle to understand. And learning from that distribution data can teach carriers precisely what to do and what not to do during this crucial delivery time. In turn, the use of real-time freight data again returns to the conversation to drive rating processes and tender acceptance decisions.

Proactive freight management will future-proof the supply chain

When thinking about the shipping in this new year, fleet managers must keep the chain organized and flowing. Shipping trends have shown for years and years that a proactive management team can keep a supply chain secure and running more smoothly. Bad management means a whole mess of trouble when it comes down to working across third-party trucking carriers and more drivers. Keeping management proactive is the best way to keep a supply chain fool-proof. And this year, proactive freight management that combines people and technology will be critical to future-proofing the industry and avoiding carrier losses.

Carriers will need to consider market volatility when planning trucking RFP processes

As 2021 begins, trucking companies are planning their RFP process. But with the wave that was 2020, 2021 could show an exciting scenario for those applying. For those trying to obtain freight procurement, says Uber, volatility is the name of the game. In turn, trucking companies often have the upper hand. However, informed RFP processes are critical to avoiding over-ambitious trucking contracts and costs, making your fleet more attractive to prospective shippers and brokers alike. Also, no one knows if the recovery will be slow, fast or simply pan out like the beginning of 2020. Carriers must use shipping trends, current freight analytics data, and local insights to optimize transportation networks.

Automation and analytics will get a bigger piece of the freight management pie

Unemployment caused by the pandemic was a key issue in 2020. And the shipping industry took a massive hit. Despite the setbacks, trucking will grow. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Overall employment of delivery truck drivers and driver/sales workers is projected to grow 5% from 2019 to 2029, faster than the average for all occupations.” And throughout the growth, e-commerce expansion will likely add more pressure to do more with less and move more freight. It will also mean more loads to review and possibly reject. That’s where automation and analytics will come into play.

Automation in shipping, including its use within trucking RFP processes, helps with this burden, but it cannot make all the decisions for carriers. For that reason, insight through analytics can also help speed processes like never before. And insight will inform all aspects of fleet and driver management.

Increase confidence in your brand with freight data-driven transportation management that aligns with these trends

With uncertainty around every corner, no industry is safe in 2021. But with the right preparation, carriers can navigate the waters safely. The industry ended on a note of chaos but will recover soon with the proper practices. And that recovery can be hastened with the right freight forecasting tools to maximize carrier profitability. Gain certainty into volatile markets and improve both operating ratios and revenue per driver and per truck with FreightWaves SONAR. Request a FreightWaves SONAR demo by clicking the button below.

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