A rebound is coming in the US economy and in freight demand, and whether it comes in the third quarter, the second half, or early next year, the time to prepare is now.
In early 2023, US shippers concentrated on opportunities to reduce transportation and supply chain costs that soared during the preceding two years. Pressured by inflation, lower consumer demand, and a slump in US manufacturing, the freight economy slowed considerably and declined faster than the US economy overall. Shippers struggled to reduce bloated inventories that had built up in 2022.
Now the focus shifts to rebalancing supply chains, better managing inventories, and aligning costs and rates before the next cyclical shift sends transportation prices higher again. As 2024 approaches, shippers and their logistics and transportation partners must seize opportunities to ensure they have all they need to build a more resilient and efficient freight network from port to destination.
That includes the right logistics and transportation partners, the right suppliers, the right assets, the right personnel and talent, the right lanes and distribution nodes, and the right technology to effectively manage door-to-door delivery of the goods shipper customers need when they need them. Shippers also need to perfect their relationships with procurement, sales, and corporate leadership.
In the past decade, shippers have seen freight markets become more volatile, pricing cycles become shorter, and capacity become less reliable. Abundant truck capacity can quickly turn into a tight market when demand rises. And it doesn’t take a major swing in truck capacity levels to affect pricing. How soon US shippers prepare for the coming rebound will make or break supply chain budgets.
This September, the Journal of Commerce Inland Distribution Conference will bring shippers, carriers, third-party logistics companies and brokers, and technology providers together in Chicago to assess freight markets as we rush toward 2024. We will have detailed discussions and think-tank workshops on what comes next and what we should do to be ready for it. We’ve moved on from the pandemic, but that doesn’t mean we won’t see disruption.
Let’s prepare together and catch the rebound. We look forward to seeing you in Chicago, on September 25-27 as we explore these big-picture issues while drilling down into more granular topics including:
- Risk mitigation for international and domestic shippers
- Outlooks for the economy, trucking and intermodal markets
- Strengthening shipper-service provider relationships
- Increasing transparency in North American supply chains
- Preparing for the next cargo surge
- Regional think tanks
- Inland Academy: an introductory track and instructional overview of key supply chain challenges