Inbound Logistics | April 2022

CUSTOMER BASE: During your last measurement period, did your customer base grow? By how much?

1% Did not report

1% Down 5%

Nearly all vendors in our survey saw the ranks of their customers grow in their most recent measurement periods, reinforcing the notion that shippers want technology to help them in today’s complex supply chain environment. And that wasn’t just a token uptick: more than half of respondents—54%—reported customer growth of 15% or more. Another 21% saw their customer base grow by 10%, and 18% saw a 5% bump. Only 1% of respondents say they have lost customers.

No change or 0%


0% Down 10% or more

Up 15%



Up 20%


Up 5%


Up 10%

Changes sparked by COVID-19 and the ongoing rise of e-commerce pose many of the challenges that shippers confront today, according to quite a few logistics IT vendors who responded to our survey. Take warehouse operations. “Warehouse capacity is extremely tight,” says Geoff Greenhill, director of sales at Camelot 3PL Software in Charlotte, North Carolina. As increased consumer spending drives demand for space, warehouse rent and construction costs are both going up, he says. E-commerce fulfillment doesn’t need as much real estate space as traditional retail distribution. “But it needs more labor,” Greenhill says. Due to shortages across all industries, exacerbated by the pandemic, workers are hard to come by even at today’s elevated wages. Companies either spend more on workers or they spend on automation to close the labor gap. “Everything is pointing toward higher costs to operate,” he says. Camelot helps control those costs by setting up more efficient warehouses, for example by integrating technologies such as robotics and automated forklifts, Greenhill says. Customer demand for faster e-commerce delivery drives a need for better inventory management and visibility, says Padhu Raman, chief product officer at Project Verte, an Atlanta-based firm that offers a cloud-based supply chain platform powered by artificial intelligence (AI). “This challenge is more prominent right now, with changes in Where the Challenges Lie

customer expectations.” As consumers demand a better shopping experience and greater convenience, brand owners sell through multiple channels to connect with as many customers as possible, he says. Project Verte’s technology helps companies gain the visibility they need to streamline e-commerce fulfillment. “We provide a hub where they can integrate into the platform and get the data centralized in one view,” Raman says. Among other functions, the technology also helps shippers improve their parcel shipping, consolidating packages to save money on linehaul shipments and last-mile delivery. For retailers who use supply chain technology from Inmar Intelligence, in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, the biggest challenges right now involve formulating strategies for the future, says Joe Marcaurelle, director of product strategy for the company’s supply chain division. “These retailers incorporated a lot of new processes and technologies during the pandemic to keep up with new customer expectations and stores not being able to be entered.” Now they have a chance to determine which business trends applied only during the pandemic and which represent permanent change. “They’re starting to evaluate what technologies they need to bring them into the future of where they think the economy is going,” he says. Inmar helps its customers stitch together various technologies—Inmar’s own and its partners’—to provide an end-to-end picture of their businesses, Marcaurelle says.

April 2022 • Inbound Logistics 71

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