Capitalizing on these trends helps companies become even more competitive and profitable through their supply chain. The major trends the guys looked at are:
E-commerce in retail
As more and more retail chains expand their e-commerce sales, the winners will be those who offer an enhanced buying experience through on-time deliveries. Many forward thinking retailers already see that the way to building a strong brand is through the choices they offer, and offering a more exact, prompt delivery schedule.
While brands can be built through the delivery experience, others can be severely harmed by what customers perceive to be negative waiting times and an insecurity attached to companies not knowing where goods are in the delivery process.
"Nowadays, people hate having to go to the shop to pick up goods. But not getting deliveries on-time, or having to wait between 2.00 pm to 10.00 pm for a delivery also destroys the shopping experience," says Mikael Brorsson. "Some delivery experiences are bordering on awful, and it can destroy loyalty to even the strongest brands."
3PL on the rise
This is leading to a rise in 3PL companies who know the value of prompt deliveries, removing the problem from etailers and enabling them to concentrate more on their core business of product development. More and more major brands are outsourcing their supply chain, especially home deliveries to 3PL companies.
Brorsson cites companies such as the UK’s Direct Parcel Delivery that employs technologies such as "Predict" that gives customers a one hour delivery window and a range of rescheduling options both the night before and on the day of delivery. Customers can interactively track their goods using an app in their phone to predict exactly when goods will be delivered.
E-commerce in B2B
"B2B companies face the challenge of greater delivery speed, more transparency and better control in order to compete in an ever tougher marketplace." Says Stefan Borg. "The winners will be those who can quickly establish satellite warehouses which are easily scaled up and down according to demand."
Stefan qualifies this with a look at the construction industry, where large projects can be initiated, driven and completed much quicker and with greater profitability. Again he points to 3PL providers who can rent a building, then serve a variety of different customers from that building. As competition increases it is the speed of adaptation that will decide who wins and who loses.
Borg also says the food and beverage industry is undergoing a revolution. "Wholesalers are taking on dual roles of bulk deliveries to stores, as well as picking, packing and delivering specific recipes and small orders direct to consumers’ homes." He says. “In a marketplace that is so disruptive, industries need to rely on a warehouse management system that is both flexible and scalable, as well as agile delivery systems that can adapt to demands while on-the-go.”
Internet of Things (IoT)
After being a buzzword for many years, IoT is finally making its breakthrough, particularly in the areas of the connected home, connected health and the connected car. But experts are seeing the effect it will have on the supply chain industry.
“IoT is a hot area,” says Brorsson. “From vehicle monitoring, notification of exact delivery times to the ability to use wearables to control goods flow, IoT will have a profound effect on our industry in both the short and long term.”
Stefan Borg agrees, and looks at how the major players are consolidating resources to compete. “There’s in-built support in Windows 10 and both Google and Apple have recently bought companies specializing in IoT”. He says. But he thinks that one major effect is on RFID.
“IoT could be the enabler that will finally give RFID the possibility to be affordable enough to implement for all companies.” He mentions major players such as the DSG Group who would previously have to look at building their own standard. But by turning RFID chips into sensors they become cheap and easy to deploy in a whole host of areas.
Mikael Brorsson goes back to food and beverage deliveries, “Every packed food hamper is unique. Using IoT and RFID together it would be possible to give consumers both an exact delivery time, and even documented proof of temperature control and any other parameters the consumer feels are important, direct to an app, or even to a wearable device.”
The song says, “The future’s bright, you gotta wear shades.” When it comes to the future of supply chain management, it could well be in intuitive glasses. You’ll probably be watching delivery progress on your wrist.
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