Here Are the 5 Essential Logistics Stories of 2018 (So Far)

Here Are the 5 Essential Logistics Stories of 2018 (So Far)

In just the past six months we've had enough logistics news to fill a typical year … or two. Driven by acceleration in e-commerce and a turbulent trade environment, it's become more important than ever for ocean freight professionals to stay on top of developments and to get a sense of perspective. So for your holiday-week reading, here's a rundown of the most important stories we've all been watching, plus some that have flown under the radar:

An International Trade War

No doubt the biggest news of the year for logistics has been the implementation of heavy tariffs by global trade powers like the United States, China, and the European Union against one another. Commonly traded goods were targeted with duty hikes, and retaliatory tariffs have created one of the most volatile international trade markets for freight forwarders in recent memory. We wrote extensively on what tariffs could mean for logistics professionals. Now, we’re finding out firsthand what a trade war looks like.

Read More: What Does a Trade War Look Like?

E-Commerce Makes Its Logistics Push

So far this year, Amazon, Alibaba, and even Google made significant moves in logistics, with others like Toyota investing heavily in last-mile delivery. It’s becoming clear that the biggest companies recognize how important logistics is.

Read More: OK Google, Welcome to Logistics

The Era of Consolidation

The carrier market is surprisingly robust, but not all that competitive. Here’s an interesting fact from the Journal of Commerce from earlier this year: “Data from the analyst [Drewry] show that as of Oct. 1 there were 379 different vessel operators, but apart from 31 carriers at the top of this upside down pyramid, none of the rest have more than 0.1 percent market share.” Some of the biggest carriers are creating alliances to grab as much market share as possible. According to Drewry, alliances like Ocean Network Express have ensured that the top seven carriers in the world account for 75% of ocean freight traffic, who also believe the “era of consolidation” is over; any further alliances from the biggest shippers could cause regulatory issues.

All Eyes on Blockchain Technology and In-Transit Tracking

Perhaps the best application of blockchain technology for ocean freight is its tracking capabilities. This year, carriers and e-commerce companies began investing more in-transit tracking technology that will “enable shippers to collect key details about their in-transit cargo.” Along with blockchain technology, tracking tech includes sensor hardware and data platforms that allow shippers to know almost anything about their freight in real-time, from the temperature of their container to whether the door has been opened.

Read More: Freight Forwarders: Your Future is the Blockchain

Ocean Freight Is Still Sailing Strong

We predicted 2018 would be a good year for ocean freight, and though there have been ups and downs so far, volumes have trended upwards over the last few months, especially over one of the most critical trade lanes in the freight world: US west coast and China. If there are concerns over tariffs, they haven’t shown in volumes … yet.

Read More: Smooth Sailing: Container Shipping Poised for Record 2018

For more insights on the future of logistics, check out our Resources Library.

By: Fauad on July 3, 2018, 9:23 a.m.