As e-commerce and the global economy continue to expand, supply chains everywhere feel the strain. Companies across multiple industries are looking for advantages in this progressively competitive landscape. The innovative solutions of today will become the industry standards of tomorrow, so supply chain professionals must adapt and learn how to properly implement new tools that improve efficiency, scalability and customer value.
With so much riding on the implementation of these solutions, many people don’t know where to begin. If you feel overwhelmed by the sea of possibilities, start by focusing on these innovations:
- Real-time tracking: Customers expect businesses to help them track shipments from the moment they order until the second their purchases arrive. Better logistics networks enhance visibility into the status of these shipments, meeting customer needs for transparency while helping providers coordinate complex supply chains. Furthermore, asset tags with unique item identifiers enable shippers to track packages individually to help reduce theft. For instance, if one section of the chain accounts for too many problems, heightened security improvements can be added in that area.
- Last-mile delivery: New analytics and data technology help suppliers both large and small master last-mile delivery without breaking the budget. From better tracking tools to smarter courier matching, last-mile delivery is quickly becoming one of the industry’s most improved areas. Consider Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods: With this increased local retail presence, Amazon can combine automation with optimization in order to deliver goods more quickly to demanding customers.
- Robotics and artificial intelligence: Artificial intelligence is great for route optimization and package tracking, but the smart tech doesn’t stop there. Plenty of tech companies now use machine technology in warehouses to support tasks such as packing, palletizing and transporting goods. Robots all over the world also are helping suppliers reduce warehouse risks and complete tasks more efficiently. It won’t be long before robots will receive orders, find the items and pack them without human intervention.
- Network analysis: Unfortunately, most supply chains have evolved in suboptimal ways over time. New analysis tools can help providers adjust their networks with minimal interruptions to operations. Sometimes, this means adding inventory carrying locations to support efficient and responsive order fulfillment. Although these locations can be a significant investment, they quickly pay for themselves through increased customer satisfaction and faster, error-free deliveries. Network analysis also can help supply chain management professionals identify leaks in the chain and figure out how to plug those leaks. Again, if one location has consistent issues, improvements can be made to dramatically improve the entire network.
The race is on to provide consumers with the most efficient delivery processes. Only those who understand, utilize and adapt to cutting-edge tools will reach the finish line.