With an emphasis on satisfying market demands for fast distribution, innovation, product selection, and quick returns while managing difficult supply chain globalization, there have been significant changes in warehousing trends. For the last few months, supply chains and distribution markets worldwide have been significantly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Some first-time users made use of e-commerce platforms to make secure, interactive orders for necessities and at their doorsteps for contactless customer service. The market has also seen a significant change from fashion and lifestyle sales to purchasing simple necessities such as food, medicines, office and residential items, e-learning instruments, and even the distribution of major food varieties.
That being said, the massive increase in e-commerce has resulted in higher digital penetration and raised the scope for the future growth of the industry, facing obstacles such as stagnation in production, labor shortages, transport issues, and instabilities in domestic and foreign freight transportation. This involves, but is not restricted to, certain important technological adoptions that help render this change.
Cloud-based supply chain software
The secret to fast and error-free processes is to exploit big data to handle dynamic distribution networks in an accurate and timely manner. Although data analytics help anticipate, schedule, and maximize efficiency, a cloud-based warehousing system allows this important data to be gathered, tracked, processed, and used efficiently on a regular basis for increased organizational effectiveness. The blockchain and data analytics technologies also enable forecasting and controlling market spikes, addressing and avoiding unforeseen supply chain disruptions, and promoting smooth operations. These include product monitoring, visibility of the end-to-end production process, and integration of real-time strategic data into all operations in a single seamless portal. A cloud-based automated solution further enables effective processes across geographic regions and time zones to be coordinated, controlled, and guided, reducing human dependence.
AI and automation
For warehouse management infrastructure, this has become one area of advancement. The new technological adoptions that are transforming the future of a once labor-intensive industry include the use of autonomous mobile robots (AMR) for physical activities, self-managing inventory control, automatic selection and packaging equipment, even fully automated forklifts and automated cars (driverless vehicles) for inventory, and automated storage and recovery (ASRS) operations.
IoT and business integration
In digitalization, integration has become a crucial term, particularly for the logistics and distribution business. Web-based connected devices such as wearable technology, QR codes, BLE, intelligent systems, and surveillance cameras are used to provide superior monitoring of goods and vehicles and to handle larger warehousing activities. These enable facilitating and optimizing automated systems to use smarter procedures to cope with unpredictable conditions and react more effectively in complex environments.
Whereas the aforementioned technologies have ensured that logistics and distribution planning are enabled with the implementation of the latest technology. E-commerce has also influenced the framework of organizations for future Indian warehousing expansion. The major inventions include:
Emphasis majorly on A-grade facilities in major cities: The largest logistics insights portal in India reports that Tier III and IV cities amounted to 67 percent of online transactions, as digital marketing, financial technology, and mobile connectivity increased. This, together with accessibility to the geographic regions of inexpensive commercial real estate property, is contributing to the growth in Grade A warehousing in Tier II and III cities.
Competent last-mile shipments: Since it was first launched, e-commerce has radically transformed the landscape of last-mile delivery. The pandemic has further underlined innovative developments such as contactless shipments and the declining demand and use of COD payments. The increase in the demand for FMCG and perishable items requesting same-day or fast delivery and the evolving categories requiring comprehensive temperature-controlled supply networks, such as temperature-sensitive food supplements, have influenced the increased implementation of technology to further enhance customer service.
Sustainable supply chain and storage: Indian warehousing and distribution networks have also adopted sustainable practices along with multinational companies who have embraced these. They vary from innovative, energy-efficient warehouse architecture, package restructuring, increased use of energy usage monitoring and optimization technologies, introduction of paperless commerce to the substitution of plastics with environment-friendly packaging material, waste reduction and reuse, which are some fields that help make the industry responsive to global market developments.
Substantial position in peripheral, non-storage operations: Ultimately, a significant change in the equilibrium among 3PL-4PL service providers and suppliers was driven by the pandemic. Global logistics companies are changing from just being retailers and distribution network intermediaries to being valuable partners to their clients, helping them overcome the crisis by providing various value-added advantages. Although the trend has already been increasing before the COVID-19 pandemic, the outbreak has intensified growth, with an increasing number of suppliers for activities such as just-in-time packaging services, inventory assembling, product differentiation, and at times even end-to-end outbound logistics, for cost optimization and streamlined processes, based on logistics providers.
The Indian logistics and distribution industry is expected to expand at a significant pace, backed by rapid digitalization, supporting government actions, strengthened transport network, expanded PE investments in real estate warehouse operations, and changes in approaches for service procurement. Furthermore, key warehousing developments are expected to drive the growth of the storage and distribution industry in the coming years, such as increased stocking levels, shifting emphasis to critical supplies that are expected to push cold supply chain expansion, strengthening of the warehousing segment and faster creation and development of Grade A warehouses in Tier II and Tier III cities.