Setting foot in 2021

The current pandemic has drawn attention to many challenges in 2020, however it has worked as a catalyst for digitisation in the logistics industry. According to experts, there is a feeling of optimism in the industry because of the ongoing digitisation of the processes opted by almost every company. Let us now take a look at what 2021 holds for logistics.

A.V. Vijayakumar, Chairman, Federation of Freight Forwarders’ Associations in India (FFFAI)

The COVID crisis was a disruptive occurrence which has also fast-tracked digitisation and thus increased efficiencies in the logistics sector. 2021 would be a launching pad to consolidate the learnings of 2020 and a nimbler footed, economically efficient sector is set to take off. The decreased world trade resulting from lockdowns across the globe has dealt a very rude blow to the transport industry. However, this adversity also came up with some opportunities.

Shantanu Bhadkamkar, President, AMTOI

2021 is the beginning of a new decade. It is the time to take stock of many aspects of the vision and goals, particularly of ‘Aspirational India & Atmanirbhar Bharat’. It will be a decade to look back and see what we have achieved, particularly in light of the independence in 1947; to rethink on how to fulfil our unfulfilled dreams & to think big, building on our successes of the past. According to me, the next decade will be the digital decade; crossing the cusp of digital transformations.

Ashish Asaf, CEO & MD, SA Consultant & Forwarder and Face of the Future 2018, India Cargo Awards

The trade flows are disrupted due to pandemic induced reasons as well due to tariff barriers, which came up in the last few years. Hence, it does not give a clear picture to forecast for 2021 as the world is still reeling under the disruptions caused by the COVID virus. In the current year, organisations have come across new challenges and demands due to the pandemic as well due to the cargo carrying capacity reductions in both air freight as well ocean freight. Therefore, there shall be new dynamics playing out in the markets across the world, one possible scenario shall be few industries temporarily moving away from ‘Just in Time’ mode to ‘Safety Stock’ which is 30 to 60 days storage models. Probably, this shall be adopted by FMCG and generic pharmaceutical manufactures. Due to higher freight rates and inventory related costing, the margin pressure on logistics service providers shall increase in 2021.

Airline and shipping companies are gearing up to meet the rising global demand for refrigerated shipping beyond a vaccine as the global demand for fresh foods/produce, beverages and pharmaceuticals is increasing on a year on year basis. From new normal to next normal, this shall be an ongoing process till 2024 as per the current predictions in terms of business around the planet. With the push on sustainability and the focus to reduce carbon emissions, there shall be cost associated changes or increases in the freight domain hitherto.

Dhruvil Sanghvi, Chief Executive Officer, LogiNext

For the logistics industry, the pandemic has shifted all focus to the criticality and importance of this industry. Logistics forms the backbone of how human life has developed and in the past decade, the importance of bringing in efficiency into the system has come to the fore. And the pandemic seems like the tipping point. Going into 2021 and beyond, the outlook is optimistic with respect to technology playing a large role in organising the industry. At LogiNext, we’re on a mission to automate and optimise end-to-end logistics operations for enterprises across the globe and we’ve seen a huge spike in the number of incoming inquiries for companies wanting to digitise their backends and bring in visibility into their supply chain. We see this trend only growing.

Prakash Patel, Founder and Managing Director, Bhumi World

The outlook for the manufacturing and warehousing sector looks positive amidst the unlocking of the economy. With various shifts in the global manufacturing pendulum, robust measures implemented by the government, accelerated adoption of e-commerce followed by great emphasis on infrastructure, the manufacturing and warehousing sector will be seen as sunrise segments and one of the most crucial lifelines for India’s revival in the coming years.

Pushkar Singh, CEO and Co-Founder, LetsTransport

2021 will be the year of growth. COVID worked as a catalyst for the companies/sectors which were not very focused on digitisation but now have been bound to do so and logistics was one of those sectors in India. It had been delaying digital upgradation since long but now we have started seeing big logistics companies launching mobile apps for their drivers, even small transport services in Tier-2/Tier-3 cities have started using digital services. The same digital adoption is going to result in fast-tracked, more than expected growth in the sector. As a full-stack IoT enabled logistics company, we have registered 100 per cent revenue growth to ₹178 crores in FY20 while the losses stood at ₹35 crores which increased by only 50 per cent as compared to FY19.

Raj Saxena, Founder and CEO, LogisticsNow

2020 has been a tough year for logistics and transportation. While the organised players seem to have weathered the storm, many of the unorganised players have been pushed to the brink. Contrary to popular perception regarding COVID-19 vaccine movement will further bring the growth in logistics sector, the revenue and value to the Indian logistics industry from the COVID vaccine logistics will not be significant. Vaccine logistics will focus on the cold chain, which is a critical but small segment of logistics with ~20,000 trucks in total compared to >10 million commercial vehicles in the country.

Independent of the COVID vaccine logistics, logistics in India for 2021 has significant growth ahead of us in the organized sector, as manufacturing approaches pre-COVID levels and industry supply chains focus on delivering the goods for a growing consumer class and online retailers.