Although the coronavirus is not yet (fully) behind us, the economy is making a strong recovery. For logistics service providers active in road transport, this means new challenges. Because what is needed to ensure a healthy future? Investing in more trucks (and drivers as well)? Or have the priorities shifted for post-corona logistics? In my opinion, it is the latter.

Due to (semi-) lockdowns, we as a society have quickly grown further accustomed to online shopping. From buying your daily groceries to purchasing the very latest gadgets: digitally searching, ordering, paying and tracking makes everything super easy and efficient. By now, carriers active in the last mile are familiar with the requirements on their part in this respect.

What we as consumers have increasingly become more accustomed to in recent times will irrevocably extend to logistics in the business-to-business segment. After all, why bother with Excel files, e-mails and constant phone calls if we know from our home situation just how convenient digital is. This requires a new mindset from many logistics service providers in the road transport sector. IT can no longer be seen as a cost item, but becomes a primary condition in order to be able to exist.

In that respect, investing in IT must transcend traditional transport management (TMS), in which communication - to the extent that this is actually happening - mainly takes place through on-board computers. Such digitisation predominantly has an internal focus and does not make the difference in the ‘new reality’.

In line with the consumer market, external parties want to be able to digitally submit orders, track their cargo via track & trace, view invoices, etc. This requires different TMS systems geared to chain collaboration or the supplementation of existing TMS systems with targeted portals. In this way, the haulier is able to proactively exchange data with customers, suppliers, transport companies and/or recipients and thus actually make chains more efficient, both for itself and for all chain partners.

Of course, trucks remain an indispensable holy grail for the road haulier which, from the point of view of sustainability alone, require continuous investment. At the same time, the big question here is what is most profitable. Because anyone who is not ready for the rapidly growing demand for speed, flexibility and digital transparency in their IT will soon run the risk of driving around aimlessly and empty.