Cabrella Predicts: A 2021 Global Shipping Outlook

Posted by Benjamin Meskin on Jan 21, 2021 9:00:00 AM
Benjamin Meskin

Importers and exporters worldwide are preparing for significant changes in 2021, as the world adjusts its economic practices to accommodate the 'new normal.'

Exceptional global circumstances characterize this year's supply chain and shipping trends. Digitization, delivery rate increases, and the optimization of an omnichannel consumer experience are some trends to expect in 2021.

shipping in 2021


Top 4 Shipping Trends Predicted for 2021

In 2021, global shipping will undergo revolutionary technological advances. But, there are also some downsides. Shipping and freight rate hikes could put a damper on supply chain activities. Fortunately, International Shipping Insurance and omnichannel sales tactics can help shippers maintain a competitive edge in a post-pandemic trading environment.


1. Digital Solutions Improve Logistics Efficiencies

One of the pandemic's positive changes to impact shipping trends in 2021 involves accelerated digital solutions. Previously lagging in its implementation of modern technology, the shipping industry is finally catching up on its digitization efforts.

Now, real-time tracking and streamlined communication between partners is becoming the norm. Technology is not only improving efficiencies in global shipping but also giving e-commerce business owners a competitive edge. Let's look at some of the capabilities enabling these logistics trends.

Digital logistics


AI and Automation

Automation and Artificial Intelligence (AI) streamlines supply chain operations for optimal efficiency and an enhanced level of interconnectedness this 2021. 

  • Optimize maritime schedules – AI combines interconnected port system devices and ship sensors to streamline overseas shipments.
  • Narrow the margins for error – Smart sensors and Smart ships leverage real-time data to analyze weather conditions and other input for safer operations overseas.
  • Improve inventory management – Automation and AI can streamline inventory, supply chain, and supplier selection processes.
  • Predictive forecasting – Customized Machine Learning (ML) and AI algorithms help businesses manage inventory more effectively.

Many global suppliers blend AI, ML, and Automation capabilities to improve their existing applications' accuracy.


Robotic Process Automation

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is gaining momentum among other shipping trends to optimize repetitive, essential tasks within a business. Additionally, RPA tools can automate processes in a company's legacy or Transportation Management System (TMS).

Robotic Automated Storage, or Robotic Shuttle Systems, is a new and rapidly-growing technology that's revolutionizing global supply chain warehouses. These life-like robotic arms complete order fulfillment requests by retrieving items from shelves and packing them for delivery to the customer.

Simultaneously, these systems calculate the most efficient routes within the warehouse to fulfill requests. This year, many companies will be investing in Robotic Shuttle Systems to improve productivity in their warehouses. 

Robotic process automation for shipping


Smart Contracts

Smart Contracts are facilitating smoother transactions for shippers and their supply chains. These contracts automatically trigger the subsequent action when specific circumstances are met. For example, the system can submit an automated invoice or email that keeps all parties informed. 

Another benefit of these 2021 supply chain trends is the transparency it creates thanks to If-This-Then-That (IFTTT) logic and Blockchain solutions. This option transforms the process of negotiating contractual terms and conditions into a mathematical algorithm. 


2. Freight Rate Hikes

The freight industry is finally recovering from the transportation challenges that plagued 2020. This year, freight demand continues to grow, and so do the rates. However, there is still uncertainty regarding consumer spending that will impact shipping trends and the need to transport physical goods.

Freight prices are likely to continue climbing throughout 2021, but there are ways shippers can plan. Business owners need to collaborate more closely with their carrier networks to ensure availability and affordability. One option for shippers is to change the raw materials' shipment method from Full Truckload (FTL) to Less Than Truckload (LTL).

Additionally, Customized Freight Shipping Insurance can protect you from carrier liabilities, protect your shipment, and ensure deliveries arrive safely. Cargo Shipping Software actively monitors packages, enabling shippers to identify the best regional carriers.

increase in shipping prices


3. Shipping Price Increases

UPS, USPS, and FedEx are some of the carriers that increased shipping costs for 2021. The general annual rate increases are higher than usual due to the circumstances of COVID-19, and carriers are starting to repeal their money-back guarantees.



UPS increased rates effective December 27th, 2020. 

  • Nearly 5% increase for Ground Service, Domestic Air Express, US Export & Import, and Freight prices
  • Additional Handling Charge for packages that exceed the size restrictions starting January 10th
  • Additional Large Package and Handling Surcharge 

According to logistics trends, shippers spend as much as 10% of their annual revenues on shipping charges. Fortunately, many regional carriers offer better international rates. Selecting the ideal delivery option can ensure your customer receives orders on time and without unnecessary delays. 



USPS is introducing new rates starting January 21st, 2021. The prices tend to be based on a Consumer Price Index and may vary by location. 

  • A $100 fee for oversize packages sent through Priority Mail, Priority Mail Express, Parcel Return Service, Parcel Select, First-Class Package Service, and Retail Ground Mail
  • Priority Mail rate increase of approximately 3%
  • First-Class Package Service rate increase of 6%
  • Economy Parcel Select Lightweight rate increase of over 18%.

Parcel delivery companies from Amazon, DHL, and UPS often outsource shipping to USPS, leading to price increases for medium and large-sized packages.

USPS truck



FedEx also increased shipping rates in 2021 and added a 6% late fee on unpaid invoices. 

  • Nearly 5% increase for US Export & Import, Ground & FedEx Home, and Express Overnight delivery
  • Freight rate increases between 5% and 6%
  • Ground Minimum increase of 6.5%

Final Mile Delivery surcharges are also higher since FedEx added new locations to their service network. Last year, many retailers failed to meet their one-day shipping goals. Recovering from the delivery failures of 2020 will require more intelligent logistics and risk mitigation planning.

Shippers can significantly enhance the customer experience by leveraging third-party shipping insurance. Shipping Insurance Software helps shippers manage deliveries with multiple carriers and prevent issues before they happen. 


4. Omnichannel Shipping Trends Enable Flexibility

Optimizing business resiliency is an essential part of any company's continuity plan in 2021. Omnichannel fulfillment strategies ensure that a business can continue making a profit, even when one channel experiences a disruption. 

Direct-to-Consumer, retail, third-party distributors, and e-commerce channels all offer opportunities to stay connected to customers and meet expectations. However, successful omnichannel sales implementation requires excellent communication, real-time tracking, and collaboration with couriers. 

One of the Benefits of Shipping Insurance is that shippers gain access to a supply chain platform that provides a consolidated view of channel shipments and suppliers. These tools make it possible for shippers to maximize their revenues while managing higher sales volumes' logistics challenges. 

Package delivery tracking


Final Thoughts

Shipping trends in 2021 differentiate themselves considerably from past years in the level of technological advancement required and the complexity of the challenges involved. For many exporters and importers, 2021 will test the preparedness of their software, networks, and problem-solving capacity. Shipping insurance offers a multi-faceted approach to overcoming many of these difficulties. 

Ready to give your international shipping practices a digital upgrade? Apply for Insurance today!

Find out more about Global Shipping Trends in 2021. Contact our international shipping insurance professionals at Cabrella. We always look forward to answering your inquiries.

Tags: #internationalshipping

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