The effective movement of goods and services from suppliers to customers is ensured by supply chain management. Keeping pace with the ongoing technological advancements and their applications in supply chain management might be difficult for Supply Chain Managers and business owners. However, staying abreast of the latest technologies is imperative to keep businesses current and increase their probability of success.
Emerging trends in supply chain management are transforming how firms operate and optimise their supply chains as they adapt to a fast-changing global landscape.
In this post, we will look at some of these developments and their possible future impact on supply chain management.
Supply chain management - what is it?
Before we delve into the evolving trends in supply chain management, let’s briefly look at what supply chain as a service means.
The supervision and coordination of the whole process entailing the creation and delivery of goods or services, from the acquisition of raw materials through the final delivery to the end user, is referred to as supply chain management. It includes the planning, execution, control, and tracking of all supply chain activities to ensure efficient and effective operations.
A supply chain connects multiple businesses, forming a network of vendors, producers, distributors, merchants, and customers. Every connection in the chain influences the flow of information, resources, and funds, eventually leading to the creation and delivery of the final product. The purpose of supply chain management is to optimise these operations in order to save money, increase efficiency, improve customer happiness, and gain a competitive edge.
Top 8 supply chain management trends
Here is a non-exhaustive list of trends in supply chain management that are shaping the future of SCM.
Digitalisation and Data Analytics: The development of digital technologies and data analytics has transformed supply chain management. Companies are rapidly using the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), and big data analytics to collect and analyse massive amounts of supply chain data. This allows for real-time visibility, predictive analytics, and better decision-making across the supply chain.
Supply Chain Resilience: The COVID-19 pandemic emphasised the significance of developing resilient supply chains. Resilient supply chains are better prepared to handle unforeseen incidents and guarantee operational continuity. To avoid disruptions, businesses are now working on diversifying their supplier base, developing dual-sourcing techniques, and applying risk management practices.
Sustainable and Ethical Supply Chains: Environmental and ethical concerns have gained relevance in supply chain management. With growing awareness about environment-friendly products and services, customers and stakeholders increasingly demand transparency and responsible supply chain practices. This trend has resulted in adopting programmes such as sustainable sourcing, carbon footprint reduction, ethical labour practices, and circular economy ideas.
Moreover, businesses can identify sustainability risk actors within their business line, change packaging designs, and switch to alternative energy resources for transportation and production (hydrogen fuel, solar energy).
E-commerce and Omnichannel Distribution: As e-commerce has grown in popularity, it has altered client expectations and supply chain requirements. Customers want seamless experiences across numerous channels. Therefore, supply chains must increasingly respond to omnichannel distribution methods. This needs strong inventory management, versatile fulfilment capabilities, and effective last-minute delivery options.
Supply Chain Collaboration and Visibility: Coordination and visibility in the supply chain are critical for effective supply chain management. Emerging technologies allow supply chain partners to collaborate more effectively, allowing them to share real-time information, optimise inventory levels, and synchronise demand and supply. Supply chain visibility technologies enable proactive decision-making and increased responsiveness by providing end-to-end information.
Circular Economy and Reverse Logistics: The circular economy seeks to reduce waste while increasing resource utilisation. Businesses can lower their environmental impact and build a more sustainable supply chain by closing the loop and recycling products. Supply chains are adopting reverse logistics techniques to manage product returns, refurbishing, recycling, and remanufacturing.
Offering Cloud-Based Solutions: With operations becoming more cloud-based by the day, businesses are adopting cloud-based solutions for smooth and successful functioning. Localised traditional supply chain solutions can no longer help businesses offer agile, accurate and accessible solutions. Supply chain management, hence, is rapidly incorporating cloud-based software solutions to remain competitive in business.
SaaS models are a prime example of this. They are secure, reliable, convenient and efficient and allow teams to store and access data from anywhere. This increases transparency and facilitates team work within an organisation.
Customisation: There is an increasing level of customisation in different parts of the supply chain. It requires segmenting and building a customised strategy and approach for each segment. Customising manufacturing services like CNC machining and injection moulding can help achieve this. Additionally companies are automating their order processing system to easily manage personalised customer orders. By simplifying other areas of business, they can devote more time and attention to product customisation.
Supply chain as a service will continue to evolve with the development of new technologies and their systemic integration into the market. By embracing the trends and leveraging innovative technologies, companies can enhance operational efficiency, customer satisfaction, and overall competitiveness.
If you want to make a path-breaking career in SCM, enrol in Imarticus’s Digital Supply Chain Management course offered in collaboration with IIT Guwahati and E&ICT.