The digital transformation of the transportation and logistics industries charged ahead in 2018. In the auto industry, Waymo made history by launching the first commercial self-driving ride-hailing service in the US. Electric scooters exploded into the public consciousness, headlining a broader push toward micromobility services. At the same time, booming online retail sales have sent freight volume soaring, creating a massive opportunity for digitally native logistics services to disrupt the shipping process and make it faster and cheaper. We expect digital forces to continue changing the face of transportation and logistics in 2019. Here are five ways we predict that will take shape:
1) Amazon will test its third-party delivery service in earnest, enlisting one of its top sellers to help. Amazon's logistics ambitions are both well-documented and much-hyped. The firm currently counts hundreds of trucks, delivery vans, and warehouses around the globe. This shipping capacity has led to speculation that Amazon will eventually launch its own standalone delivery service for third-party merchants. Over the course of 2018, Amazon's delivery ambitions came into greater focus, and speculation about the service may soon give way to reality. In February it reportedly started trialing a last-mile delivery service for select merchants on its platform, and in June it launched a program that helps other firms create their own delivery companies that execute deliveries on Amazon's behalf. The company has even tested out pricing strategy – eyeing its eventual need to compete with legacy shippers — recently offering a merchant in Los Angeles 50% lower rates than UPS and FedEx. So far, Amazon's delivery efforts have been contained to tests with local merchants or to moving its own products. In 2019, we expect the e-tailer to significantly expand its third-party delivery efforts and move parcels for one of its major national retail partners (Think: Nike, Williams Sonoma). While we expect the test will take place on a limited basis (e.g. confined to a few geographies), signing up a major, nationwide seller will still be a milestone for Amazon's logistics ambitions.
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