In order to gauge the current mood of the industry and to get a feel for its concerns and aspirations for the coming year, leading logistics software provider Fargo Systems undertook an industry survey at this year’s Multimodal show. It hopes that the findings of the research will also serve as useful market research to inform future developments of its successful TOPS transport management system products as part of its continued commitment to product development. The survey’s findings make interesting reading, and are reflective of the uncertainty and confusion felt among logistics industry professionals since the referendum. Not unsurprisingly, the anticipated effects of leaving the European Union paint a rather bleak picture. On a more positive note, the results of the survey also show that there is cause for cautious optimism in a buoyant industry. Many respondents believe that there will be little or no change to the continuing upward trend of global trade, despite the turbulence created from the post-Brexit fallout and a weakened currency. Similarly, the findings show the same optimism when it comes to predicted customer behaviour.
Steve Collins, General Manager of Fargo Systems Ltd adds; “We knew that the hot topic at Multimodal this year would be Brexit and its impact on the industry and we were curious to see how our customers and industry peers felt it would impact their individual businesses and the industry as a whole. We always use the show as an opportunity to learn. We have found that we always gain insight as to the mood of the industry as well as getting valuable customer and product feedback, which we use to form part of our R&D strategy for the year ahead. This information is usually obtained from individual conversations had around the show and on our stand. This year, we felt that it would be good to take this one step further and do a survey. Its findings are invaluable as a way of allowing us to ‘walk in our customer’s shoes’ and gain a deeper understanding of the challenges and opportunities they will face over the coming year, making it possible for us to adapt our offering to further meet their needs.
On leaving the EU and the European Customs Union:
· From the perspective of individual businesses, confidence has been somewhat dented by the UK’s planned departure from both the European Union and the European Customs Union.
· Of the show delegates surveyed, only 18% felt that leaving the Europe will have a positive impact on their business and the industry as a whole.
· Nearly nine out of 10 respondents felt that leaving the European Customs Union will have a negative or neutral effect on their business with a mere 11% predicting a positive effect.
Trade expectations for the UK overall:
· Despite this knock to the confidence, overall the current feeling among respondents is one of optimism.
· Fargo’s volume forecasts suggest that very few anticipate any significant changes to the continuing trend of global trade nor to customer spending behaviour, from a UK perspective at least.
· 93% of respondents expect imports to remain the same or grow in the next 12 months
· This optimism prevailed when they were questioned about their predictions for the next three years – only 17% of delegates questioned expect to see import volumes to drop over the next three years.
· 90% of those surveyed expect to see exports increase over the next year with nearly the same number of respondents expecting this growth to continue for the next three years.
In addition to surveying delegates on the state of the industry and their feeling about the impact of Brexit, Fargo also posed questions about customer expectations in order to ascertain changes in attitude to software service areas of importance. Findings show a significant change in the demand for specific services and, as expected, clearly demonstrate that tracking and traceability functions have progressed from being a ‘nice to have’ and are now a ‘must have’ functionality. Over 50% of delegates surveyed stated that customers expect GPS tracking as standard with only 17% not being asked for it. This is not surprising given that ETA exception reporting and other service alerts are now considered a vital service. Similarly, the availability of same-day and real-time proof of delivery has also shifted from ‘nice to have’ to a ‘must have’ functionality. Unsurprisingly, every respondent expected to receive, or be asked to provide proof of delivery prior to invoicing and out of those questioned, 80% expected these to be available in real-time or at least same-day. 80% of those questioned also believed that their customers consider some form of online track and trace portal to be a standard value-add service.
Fargo has exhibited at every Multimodal show since its inception in 2010 and will be doing so again in 2018.