Beyond Algorithms: The Crucial Role of Human Advisors in Modern Retail Shipping

by LJM Group

The rise of technology has completely transformed retail shipping, granting easy access to a wealth of information and data analytic tools. Ranging from live tracking to forecasting, today’s cloud-based software programs offer extensive insights on shipping trends, Carrier performance, and market movements. However, within this vast pool of data, one essential fact remains: deciphering and implementing the data necessitates human expertise.

As the use of tech-powered, data-driven logistics tools continues to grow, it may be easy to think that advanced technology can replace human knowledge and experience. Yet this is far from true. According to supply chain surveys, over 74% of retailers plan to significantly increase their budget for support from third-party logistics, or 3PL, providers during the next few years.

This large percentage directly correlates to the high number of businesses that are struggling to adopt and implement advanced logistics technology. The business owners and leaders who were surveyed strongly acknowledge the necessity of utilizing data analytics software to control shipping costs and stay in line with competitors who are already implementing technology. However, an overwhelming majority recognize the need for support from human advisors. In fact, a striking number of businesses—almost 40%—are reluctant to use AI-based technology unless it is supported by a human advisor who can help them interpret and implement the data derived from cutting-edge tech.

A powerful example that illustrates the benefits of personal advisory support relates to Carrier contracts. Successful negotiations start with real people, not data and reports. Advisors like the ones at LJM Group have cultivated long-time relationships with multiple Carriers, and they maintain an in-depth understanding of each Carrier’s pricing history and behavior. Clients leverage these connections and insider knowledge to help negotiate lower rates, better terms, and improved service.

Another example that stresses the importance of working with a logistics advisor relates to a common challenge for shippers: controlling costs for small package delivery. Even though algorithms can analyze data and detect cost-effective routes, they do not possess the intellectual capacity and subtle discernment that only a human expert can offer. Pricing choices go beyond data points; they involve factors like customer preferences, relationships with Carriers, and changes in the market, all of which require human insight.

Utilizing technology to simply extract data is akin to having a map that assesses and adjusts your route, without conveying the directions. Tracking software can offer crucial details on shipment quantities, travel times, and Carrier charges. However, this information must be paired with the expertise of a seasoned pricing analyst and logistics advisor.

A pricing analyst contributes professional insight and instinct that technology simply cannot match. The Advisors at LJM hold a comprehensive grasp of market dynamics, Carrier tactics, and consumer trends developed over many years in the field. With this knowledge, they can spot trends, pinpoint exceptions, and provide strategic suggestions that go beyond what algorithms alone can achieve.

Obviously, there are times when you’ll need to run a quick report to get basic data, and little interpretation or application is required. However, most retailers today want the flexibility to utilize analytics software independently, along with the option to get expert support as needed. A dedicated advisor who understands your business and goals is much more effective at deciphering relevant data and helping your team implement it strategically to improve Carrier costs and service, transform efficiency, and elevate customer experience.

Supply chain studies indicate that the global logistics business outsourcing market is growing at a remarkable rate as retailers struggle to implement essential technologies. Third party logistics, or 3PL, market was valued at $1.3 trillion in 2022, and is projected to reach $2.1 trillion by 2032, growing at a CAGR of 5.7% from 2023 to 2032.  Faced with increasingly advanced data technology, retailers must rely on specialists in logistics advisory to effectively implement data analytics software.

Ultimately, the fusion of technology-driven shipping information and human knowledge is not a contest but a partnership that combines the best of both worlds to reach the most effective outcomes. Using the data generated by technology and pairing it with human insight, businesses can confidently negotiate, budget, and take control of shipping costs. The combination of technology-driven shipping data and experienced human analysts gives retailers a distinct lead when it comes to shipping costs and pricing strategy.


Logistics Business Outsourcing Market Size, Share, Competitive Landscape and Trend Analysis Report by Mode of Transport, by End-user: Global Opportunity Analysis and Industry Forecast, 2023-2032

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