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PARCEL Forum Recap: Four key trends drive change in logistics and retail

The world is looking very different these days, and because of that, businesses are working overtime to evolve their logistics and supply chain to meet the needs of customers.

During our recent visit to PARCEL Forum 2021 in National Harbor, MD, four key trends emerged as drivers of change within companies – both big and small.


The Emergence of Reverse Logistics

In 2020, U.S. consumers returned an estimated $428 billion, with approximately $102 billion of those returns coming from online purchases. As retailers continue to evolve their supply chain to meet e-commerce demands, a new challenge has emerged: returns. As a result, many companies are making immediate investments in fulfillment and third-party logistics providers to preserve their customer experience and reduce their loss of sales.


Labor Shortages = Automation

COVID or not, labor shortages are prevalent. Couple that with higher volumes, and faster shipping, and you have fulfillment operations plagued by downtime, increased costs, and shipping damages/errors. That ultimate challenge begs for automated solutions – from sortation and scanning to picking and packing. While certain new technologies are replacing human beings all together, collaborative robotics, that work alongside humans, are emerging as a clear winner in today’s marketplace.


Go Omni or Go Home

Consumers want their packages now – and that means they demand options. Ship from store, buy online pick up in store (BOPIS), and curbside pickup are being added to many retailer fulfillment strategies to ensure products reach consumers quickly and efficiently. Target, for example, fulfilled 75% of its digital sales in store through Q1 of 2021. And, in 2020, BOPIS/curbside pickup grew by 103%, while ship from store experienced an increase of 80%.  


The Future is Green

A positive customer experience no longer solely includes good service and a strong, reliable product. Consumers are now using carbon footprint as a measuring stick to gauge their perception of a company. Fifty-four percent of surveyed consumers take sustainable packaging into consideration when selecting a product. Companies are increasingly building and communicating their roadmap to a sustainable future, which could be through recycled content in packaging, or diverting products from the landfill.    


To learn more about the insightful sessions that took place this year, and how the latest trends are impacting packaging strategy, contact us here