Supply chain leaders will face 2018 with uncertainty and opportunity. Digital technologies are becoming more prevalent in basic supply chain functions, and changes in legislation are likely to spur dramatic changes that will result in the need to reevaluate supply chain strategy in both domestic and international locations. Similar to the supply chain maturity curve of technologies, as explained by Steve Banker of Forbes, supply chain managers should consider how top supply chain trends will influence operations in the coming year.
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1. Data-visualization Will Shorten Delivery Times
Okay. Let’s face facts. Data visualization is technically a technology, but it is so much more than that. Data visualization can be applied to any supply chain process that presents users with information enabling the immediate adjustment of operations or sharing of information. In other words, the simple act of providing reports to executives and upper-level managers could be considered a form of data visualization, and better reporting will be a fundamental improvement in supply chains throughout 2018, explains Craig Guillot of Supply Chain Dive. Having more information will enable faster decision-making and help supply chain entities take advantage of value-added services and jobs, including services offered by third parties.
2. Supply Chain Managers Will Focus on Increasing Perfect Order Deliveries
As explained by Kushal Nahata via Supply Chain Management Review, supply chain managers will put added pressure on employees, drivers and other individuals within the supply chain to increase perfect order delivery rates. Perfect orders are just that, perfect. They are the percentage of orders delivered to the right place, at the right time, in the proper condition, in the right package, with the right documentation, to the right customer, with the correct invoice and in the correct quantity.
Although the industrial average sits at 84% today, that represents a 16% of all orders could result in customers choosing to shop with a competitor, as well as 16% of orders going through an extensive returns process. Instead of diverting more resources to returns management, supply chain managers should focus more on increasing the perfect order percentage, getting it right the first time, not the second or third time.
3. Sustainable Practices Will Be a Leading Focus of Supply Chain Executives
Supply chain executives will also increase focus on sustainable practices, reducing waste and improving efficiency throughout the entire supply chain. In the logistics aspect of the supply chain, this equates to better monitoring and adherence to guidelines governing drive time, fuel use, deadhead and more.
4. Service Supply Chains Will Dominate the Market
Consumers using e-commerce solutions are also moving away from purchasing entirely new products, opting for more refurbished products and components to keep existing products working in good condition. This is the service parts supply chain, and it will see great resurgence in the coming year. Supply chain executives should ensure an existing service part supply chain can handle incoming demand from consumers. If consumers are forced to shop with a competitor for service parts, they are more likely to continue purchasing new products and making repeat orders with your competitor.
5. Supply Chain Management Will Finally Have a Standard Certification Process
Supply chain management has been a very complicated topic in recent years, and it seems like the number of platforms and services available has expanded exponentially. Every system is different, but this is merging into a single cohesive set of systems that can be integrated through the Internet of Things (IoT). As a result, supply chain management is approaching the point of having a defined standard certification process created. This will help encourage effective, efficient deployment of new systems and services, while helping to curb the existing skills gap. If potential employees, students and interested parties can pursue a certification, they are more likely to pursue it as a career option.
6. The Role of Social Media in Supply Chain Management Will Increase
Supply chains have used mobile technology for years, but 2018 will see increased use of social media accounts and marketing tools to increase supply chain management effectiveness. Since consumers sharing negative or positive product information through social media has a direct impact on cells, it is only natural for supply chain managers to look at social media use in greater detail. As a result, supply chain entities will begin using social media as a primary means of connecting with consumers, beyond traditional online, browser or app-based shopping experiences, says Supply Chain 24/7.
Flexible Processes and Elastic Systems Will Replace Traditional Supply Chain Management Strategies
Lean processes are standard in supply chains, including logistics, but 2018 will see a gradual transition to elastic logistics. This includes flexible solutions that allow the logistics infrastructure to meet market fluctuations, and it serves as a safeguard for established companies looking for a way to stay competitive as more startups increase. Furthermore, pressure on carriers and the transportation industry will result in greater use of elastic logistics methodologies, so supply chain managers must be willing to change and adapt.
What Top Supply Chain Trends Can We Look Forward to in 2018
The state of the global supply chain will evolve dramatically throughout the remainder of 2018. Supply chain managers refocus their efforts to increase adherence to perfect order metrics and leverage marketing capabilities and capacities to their fullest potential. Supply chain management may not resemble standard processes of today by the time Christmas comes around, but supply chain managers that learn more about expected top supply chain trends can successfully navigate the treacherous waters of a strained industry. In addition, supply chain manager should consider a few more factors that will affect basic supply chain practices, which will be discussed in further detail in the next post.