With the B2B online retail market expected to reach double the size of the B2C online market by 2020 businesses will need to intensify efforts to tap into new online channels, according to DHL's Logistics Trends research.
Customers expect a simple, consistent shopping experience no matter which channel they use – web, mobile app or in-store. 2018 CEO Survey from PWC shows that 68% of the T&L heads expect changes in distribution channels to disrupt their business in the next 5 years.
Omni-channel services will allow businesses to offer advanced customer experience and greater delivery convenience. Yet supply chains can struggle to meet the customer-centric expectations that the omnichannel experience demands. Fulfilment processes remain patchy while supply chain processes are too segmented. A lack of visibility into inventory in transit is also problematic. Companies that can overcome these supply chain glitches can deliver a seamless shopping experience, ensuring that customers keep coming back and minimising the costs of complaints and cancelled orders.
41% of consumers in the United States have used shared or on-demand services offering same-day and expedited delivery, according to Statista.
Some aspects of logistics stand to benefit strongly from the sharing economy, but only if companies intelligently embrace these disruptive business models. Uber freight, for example, allows companies to schedule deliveries via a trusted network of drivers.
Supply chains could also consider adopting key tenets of the sharing economy: making shared use of assets, people and data. Rather than operate logistics in the silo, companies could consider pairing up with third parties and partners to share storage, transport and technology in order to optimise utilisation and to maintain a more fluid supply chain.
It is not just the sharing economy that promises to deliver benefits by taking a less centralised approach to supply chains and logistics. Supply chains require a trusted way of communicating between countless parties: blockchain and other distributed databases can offer transparency and security that enables trusted communications.
A decentralised approach also boosts visibility. With improved data sharing thanks to a decentralised database, supply chain operators can better understand where goods are, measure inventory levels and predict when customers will receive a shipment.
Intra-enterprise supply chain visibility also matters, and the trend is clearly towards better insights. Thanks to the Internet of Things (IoT), companies can now measure inventory levels and stock movements automatically as millions of sensors instantly report back to a central hub. Sensors can track goods all the way from the factory floor through to the store.
This wealth of data provides the opportunity for advanced analytics: analysing logistics and supply chain activity more deeply than ever before in order to better optimise supply chain operations. Doing so reduces costs and irons out the glitches that today’s customers find so intolerable. In fact, supply chain data is now so detailed that companies can build a virtual version of a supply chain called a digital twin. Digital twins can be tweaked and modified to find improved ways of operating – which can then be implemented in the real world.
Indeed, digital supply chain optimisation is no longer optional, and leaders in logistics innovation look to advanced tools such as artificial intelligence (AI) and indeed intelligent automation to get the most out of their supply chains. AI has the ability to analyse and optimise supply chain data to a level that cannot be matched by humans utilising data analytics tools.
Combine AI with other technological advances such as digital twins and companies can drive supply chain productivity to levels never seen before, giving companies a clear cost advantage over competitors. Furthermore, intelligent automation ensures that automated supply chains utilise available data and insights to remain agile, responsive and scalable.
Robotic process automation (RPA) is also set to reduce labour costs and minimise errors by automating routine processes on existing supply chain software platforms.
Companies with complex logistics or vast supply chains have high expertise in supply chain management, but less expertise when it comes to digital transformation and innovation. An experienced technology partner will enable your organisation to get the most of the latest logistics and supply chain trends.
ELEKS has a track record of helping companies cut supply chains costs and improve customer retention. We do so by combining business analysis with superior software development skills and an in-depth understanding of your market and supply chains and logistics. Contact us to see how ELEKS can help you utilise technology, streamline your operations and save money.
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