ALTHOUGH we may only be a third of the way through the year, the logistics and delivery industry has already experienced a range of exciting developments.

From small robots that deliver lunch throughout office complexes and campuses, to robots utilised in warehouse processes, the sector is currently undergoing rapid progression and advances, particularly within the field of AI.

Previously, headlines have been filled with speculation over drone deliveries and driverless services, none of which have yet come to fruition. So, just what changes can we expect to come to light during the remainder of 2018?

Uptake of Blockchain

Blockchain – a digital, transparent and unmodifiable ledger – has huge potential in a number of industries. This includes financial services, the housing market and healthcare. Another is supply chain and logistics.

As ecommerce grows worldwide, managing the supply chain is becoming increasingly complex. However, blockchain could help to simplify, by recording every transaction or movement in a visible, encrypted, distribution ledger. Plus, with smart contracts that include automatic fulfilment, it limits payment waiting times – this could provide huge benefits for international deals that can be delayed due to time zones and language barriers.

While blockchain is still largely associated with Bitcoin, this technology has the potential to alter the way many industries operate. As the year continues, it’s expected more firms will uptake this technology, particularly within logistics.

Last Mile Delivery Solutions

As the industry has become more competitive, more retailers and logistics firms are offering customers a wider range of specialised and expedited services. With a boom in ecommerce, this means competition is fierce, yet with firms increasing their delivery offerings, there is often little to differentiate one competitor from another.

As such, in recent years, there has been a larger focus on last mile delivery, both in terms of reducing costs and improving services. For the latter half of 2018, firms will focus more on this area, utilising technology and a wider range of options. This could include smaller delivery windows, real time tracking, an increase in omnichannel solutions (including drop off and collection points), to fit in with increasingly busy customer schedules. This will also include precision and smaller delivery windows.

More Regional Warehouse Facilities

While many companies have traditionally operated from one – or a small selection of – distribution centres, this is beginning to change. This is largely in response to an increase in delivery demand, as well as the need for faster services.

By operating from an increased number of smaller, regional facilities, logistics companies are located within closer proximity to final delivery destinations and as such, are able to provide faster turnaround. Going forward, this will also allow businesses to fully utilise more last mile delivery solutions, including short range technology (such as drones and delivery robots), further boosting efficiency and customer experience.

Without a doubt, it is an exciting time to be part of the logistics sector. Driven by advances in technology, this is an industry that is rapidly responding to changes in customer expectation and utilising the latest tools. As such, the remainder of 2018 should see further developments in these three areas.