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The COVID-19 pandemic has left its footprint on most industries across regions; the North American logistics and transportation industry is no different. This industry is critical for economic activity, a point more evident than ever in these unprecedented times. The North American logistics and transportation industry is complex and fragmented with small and medium-sized service providers. Operational inefficiencies are a key challenge to the industry, where manual errors, operational missteps, and uninformed decisions can create havoc and damage customer relationships because of delayed shipments, loss in productivity, and reduced profit. The pandemic further exposes these limitations and drives industry participants to rethink their operational risk strategies for future resilience. The emergence of omnichannel and on-demand business models creates opportunities for eRetail, trucking, and last mile delivery service providers to perform under pressure and recover from supply and demand shocks. Digital transformation is in full swing among the major logistics and transportation companies in North America. Inter- and intraregional trade complexity, supply chain bottlenecks, and the eCommerce industry’s exponential growth lead to the industry’s continuous demand for digital technology service providers to offer innovative solutions that support near zero-defect process automation and enable seamless communication among industry participants to make informed and on-the-spot decisions to mitigate operational risks. In the medium to long term, the United States–Mexico–Canada (USMCA) trade agreement as well as President Biden administration’s strategic investment plan in logistics infrastructure development and focus on green initiatives in the United States are expected to drive the North American logistics and transportation industry growth. The increased import activity with traces of economic rebound, coupled with labor shortage in maritime ports, has resulted in the pileup of shipping containers in major North American ports. Freight capacity reservation delays and premium spot rates due to port congestion, operational delays, and resource shortages are likely to continue in the medium term. The adoption of digital technologies powered by blockchain, analytics, and artificial intelligence to create customer-focused solutions can enable logistics companies to synchronize data in real time for effective asset and working capital management. This study analyzes the logistics and transportation industry’s value to the North American economy in terms of growth outlook and freight volumes by different modes of transportation. The research identifies key trends, factors, growth drivers, and growth restraints reshaping the operating grounds of the industry and examines its shift in focus to non-container port developments and strategic investments for manufacturing footprints to ensure nearshoring and overcome tariff pressure by capitalizing on the USMCA. The study also highlights key digital disruptions that offer intelligent operating platforms to logistics industry participants to alleviate operational inefficiencies as well as covers the importance of a strategic partner ecosystem for a new generation of services delivering growth opportunities with future-proof connected logistics solutions.Author: Suriya Anjumohan
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