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Trends and Predictions for the Logistics Industry in 2021

Trends and Predictions for the Logistics Industry in 2021

December 7, 2020

Phil Wahl, President and COO of Atlas Logistics®

It’s no secret that 2020 has been a rather difficult year for us all. Entire industries have changed drastically as companies across the world rethink business models, restructure organizations, and adapt to ever-changing rules and regulations.
 
From personal experience, COVID-19 impacted the logistics industry in a variety of ways. Most profoundly, the COVID-19 impact was felt in the retail and hospitality sectors, as projects became delayed or postponed as a result of the nationwide shutdown. The tradeshow sector was also hit hard as events were cancelled across several industries. While we look forward to its revival, we don’t expect to see it return until sometime in 2021. We have also seen capacity become an issue as carriers saw layoffs when the country was shut down.
 
In 2020, we saw a dramatic change in the way consumers do business. The industry saw e-commerce and home delivery grow rapidly, as online shopping increased for the majority of consumers who were quarantined. Notably, e-commerce sales were up more than 31% at the end of June according to a CNBC report. We also saw volatility in the freight rates category in 2020 and expect that to continue in 2021.
 
In response to these changes, Atlas® World Group and Atlas Logistics acquired a home delivery company, TopHAT Logistical Solutions. The $50 million full-service logistics company specializes in retail home delivery and helped expand Atlas Logistics’ final-mile delivery services for customers. Similar to other Atlas subsidiaries, the company’s mission is centered around customer service for its clients’ unique needs.
 
In addition to e-commerce and home delivery, research and development will continue to flow up and down the supply chain, using robotics to move products through distribution centers, and on and off of vehicles. We will also see less human interaction in the process as precautions are taken due to COVID-19.
 
As we look to the new year, the logistics industry is expected to return slowly in 2021. As mentioned, we anticipate the tradeshow and hospitality industry to gradually return to normal over the course of the new year. Additionally, residential and home delivery will continue to grow at a rapid pace as e-commerce continues to thrive. Warehousing opportunities will also increase as companies demand personal protective equipment (PPE) and other COVID-related products.
 
On the sustainability front, we are seeing an increase in more energy-efficient vehicles. For example, electric trucks and natural gas trucks are being utilized in local delivery fleets. Many customers are also requesting packing materials be recycled. We expect this trend to grow and foresee sustainable initiatives and innovations remaining to be a priority for customers and businesses alike.
 
We are hopeful about the future of transportation and logistics and committed to working alongside partners and customers to navigate the aforementioned challenges. We are also committed to the investment in technology and developing talent to take full advantage of the opportunities that are being fostered.