What's Ahead for 3PL Retail Partners in 2023 Blog Hero Image

What’s Ahead for 3PL Retail Partners in 2023

November 14, 2022

Staying on top of innovative new processes and industry trends is vital to competing in an intensifying logistics landscape. Today we take a look ahead to 2023, evaluating the ways consumer demand will drive increased supply chain efficiency and other key changes we can expect in the coming year.

Here’s a sneak peek into what’s ahead for third-party logistics retail partners in 2023:

Consumer demand will drive increased supply chain efficiency

Demand for fast shipping is rising alongside the eCommerce boom, making supply chain efficiency a hot topic in virtually every industry. The COVID-19 pandemic and other global factors also exposed just how vulnerable supply chains can be, as bottlenecks forced many companies to adapt to radically new circumstances over the past few years.

To thrive in the years ahead, third-party logistics partners must continue the process of reconfiguring their supply chain operations to be more “resilient, responsive, and agile,” in order to keep pace with shifting customer expectations.

Customers are perpetually re-prioritizing their purchasing habits and requirements needed for businesses to earn their loyalty, including the following key factors:

  • Convenience. The rise in online shopping is staggering. In 2020 alone, e-commerce sales increased by $244.2 billion, a 43% rise in a single year. 
  • Personalization. Customized products tailored to specific needs have also risen, especially within smaller, “niche” companies. 
  • Economy. In 2021, studies showed 66% of consumers expected free shipping on every purchase. Nearly 9% of online consumers want their orders to arrive the same day, and 91% expect delivery within a week. 
  • Sustainability. More people are showing a preference for sustainable products, packing options and shipping practices.

Of course, facilitating supply chain responsiveness is what 3PLs live for – most of our partners turn to First Call with an aim to:

  • Be faster and more flexible
  • Access new technology and talent to fulfill rising customer expectations
  • Integrate seamlessly across all channels (planning, distribution management, etc.)
  • Become more cost-efficient

Supply chain agility is the new requirement for success

In the coming year, the ability to help companies scale quickly will likely be the primary selling point for 3PLs in a competitive market. In fact, one of the most important shifts expected to occur in 2023 is the rise of the supply chain specialist – “the hottest job in retail” – which will effectively install C-level executives to oversee supply chain processes for entire organizations.

Here are a few more trends to watch out for in 2023:

  • Micro-fulfillment to make the “last mile” count. This could mean increasing the number of small, local distribution centers or encouraging more consumers to pick up in-store, essentially turning brick-and-mortar stores into distribution centers.
  • Integrate flexible contracts. Splitting orders into smaller blocks, allowing buyers to change their orders to coincide with changes in demand.
  • Increase inventory reserves. Keeping some inventory for a rainy day (or other supply chain disruptions). 
  • Invest in agility. Instituting daily management of capacity and demand to allow flexibility and quick shifts. 
  • Invest in customer experience. Consumers don’t want to be told their products are “on backorder” – choosing agility, increasing reserves and managing flexible contracts can help.

Industry tech will optimize ordering, shipping and storing products

Every year we see an improvement in industry tech, and 2023 will be no different. With the usage of 3PLs on the rise, here are three things to watch out for this year:

  • Cloud integration. Even the smallest of businesses can streamline its operations via cloud resources. Data-driven orders, warehouse and transportation tech and communications technology are already transforming the process of ordering, shipping and storing products.
  • Machine learning. Perhaps the biggest shift in the coming year will be an increase in machine learning applications. Smarter tech can help predict when and where to send freight, determine optimal pricing, facilitate inventory management and increase quality and safety. 
  • Advanced tracking tech. It’s not just consumers who benefit from tracking technology. Third-party logistics partners will be able to deliver more freight on time and with greater efficiency thanks to increasing visibility throughout the shipping process.

Be prepared for 2023

Enlisting the help of a 3PL for scaling your business and refining your supply chain is a long-term investment that benefits teams, brands and customers. As we incorporate these trends and tools into our daily operations, the First Call team will be better-equipped to help its partners optimize shipping, ordering and storage in the coming year.

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