The report found that businesses were increasingly ordering goods online, which was driving a need for faster and more convenient supply chains.
Customer demand is also driving growth in direct-to-consumer shipments of time-and-temperature sensitive goods.
This Fresh Chain will require new innovations in packaging, storage and delivery of goods, such as groceries and pharmaceuticals.
Sustainability is another key development, the report said.
“Sustainability will become a mandate to operate in the logistics industry, as governments, cities and solution providers commit to sweeping agreements to cut down on CO2 emissions and waste,” DHL explained.
Another prediction is that technology will become widespread in logistics as the cost-performance-ratio tips for key trends such as Internet of Things and Artificial Intelligence in the next years.
One trend that can accelerate this is the spread of next-generation wireless networks that can significantly increase the economics and value derived from connectivity in the supply chain.
Another trend highlighted in this edition is blockchain where there has been a lot of hype and promise for the technology, but achieving industry buy-in may prove a significant hurdle to adoption.
However, the trends identified are not just in automation. DHL points out that people will continue to remain at the heart of logistics, even as the trend of robotics and automation, as well as software automation, will redefine the structure of the logistics workforce in the future
“Highly repetitive, physically intensive tasks will be aided by technology, enabling people to do more meaningful tasks that require management, analysis and innovation,” DHL said.
Markus Kückelhaus, vice president innovation and trend research, DHL Customer Solutions & Innovation, said: “As much as we aim for an accurate prediction, we know from experience that the impact of some trends will not materialise.
“Innovation does not follow a linear path – the success of some trends will rely on culture and capabilities as much it does on breakthrough technologies and business acumen. That’s why we need to actively engage first-hand on driving the development of these trends.”
This is the fourth edition of the DHL report, which was first published in 2013. Most of the insights are collected first-hand from over 10,000 logistics professionals and technology experts who visit the DHL Innovation Centers annually. The findings are then aggregated and reflected on the Logistics Trend Radar.