One of the major trends in our industry today is how easy it is becoming to transmit data back and forth between 3PL providers and the companies they serve. For XPO, this means sharing information digitally with our customers, often on a daily basis, and learning from the data they share with us.

Sharing data between providers and customers

While some companies have a natural hesitancy about data-sharing, it is important to realise that a combination of robust technology and a mutually agreed data-sharing plan can ensure data security. In fact, risk mitigation is the primary reason why 3PLs and their customers should embrace sharing information. This collaboration is critically important if both parties are to cope with the unpredictability in today’s supply chains.

Challenges in forecasting for 2022 – and beyond

The onset of the pandemic reshaped supply and demand in many sectors, driving spikes in demand for certain products and lulls in others. Some analysts have suggested ignoring 2020 altogether, since it was so unpredictable. I have to disagree — I think the lesson of 2020 is that predictions will become more complicated moving forward. There will be more uncertainty about demand patterns and logistics requirements, among other factors. Thankfully, data can help guide the planning for future periods. We use predictive technologies, such as ‘machine learning’, to learn from the data assimilated and adjust for evolving market forecasts.

Aligning behaviors to meet mutual goals

As 3PLs and their customers enter into new relationships, they should keep in mind that collaboration is critical from the start, and it isn't all about technology; it's also about behaviour. More collaboration provides more visibility and it builds trust. At XPO, this allows us to help our customers reach some of their larger goals — for instance, with environmental sustainability, there is often commonality between what we are both trying to achieve from an ESG perspective.

We firmly believe that a collaborative mindset is the future of supply chain relationships, where the 3PL and the customer work together as true partners. Regardless of whether the relationship is based on a short-term or a long-term contract, the immediacy of data-sharing is an opportunity to ensure success.