Over the past 2 years, the Covid-19 pandemic has affected the global supply chain with severe disruptions, sudden demand changes, and massive plant shutdowns. Now that the pandemic has passed, it’s time for all businesses to recuperate and move forward.
In the new normal, adaptation to uncertainty becomes critical to the revolution. It means, retailers should study the market, analyze the risk, and develop strategies to increase customer satisfaction and save costs. This post will highlight 11 logistics and supply chain trends in 2023 for you to prepare and stay up to date with the industry movements.
11 latest supply chain trends
First of all, from the logistics situations during the past years, we can identify the 11 trends in supply chains to expect in 2023 as follows.
Artificial intelligence and machine learning
Technological advancement has boosted the wide use of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning in different industries. According to a report by Blueweave Consulting, the global market for AI in supply chains was valued at USD 5,610.8 million in 2021. This number is expected to reach USD 20,196.6 million by 2028, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR). The application of AI in demand and sales forecasting, and product inspection, is one of the major trends in supply chains in the coming years.
AI can bring huge benefits to the business:
- Aid businesses in automating decision-making and customer service,
- Locate the best suppliers for you to build rapport,
- Optimize and automate inventory flow to keep your business running smoothly with little to no human involvement,
- Help businesses save a ton of time and money while also providing amazing returns on investment.
Data is crucial for businesses to make strategic decisions on supply chain management. Most companies keep track of this vital information on spreadsheets. However, for a complicated supply chain with a mountain of data to manage, this approach is no longer suitable. Most industries are currently aiming for smart automation with less human participation in management while still achieving better results.
74% of supply chain executives rate advanced analytics as the second most crucial supply chain technology. With advanced analytics, you can view your whole supply chain, including its advantages, weaknesses, and pain points.
Advanced data provides you with actionable insights that you can:
- Utilize to improve your process efficiency and back your decisions;
- Improve your key performance indicators and maximize your assets.
Digital supply chain with IoT
The internet of things, or IoT, is an interconnected network of computing devices, mechanical and digital machines, objects, animals, or people that are given unique identifiers (UIDs). IoT can transfer data over a network without the need for human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction. Nowadays, IoT is so widely used that there will be 55.7 billion connected devices on the market by 2025, International Data Corporation (IDC) experts said.
IoT benefits businesses in several ways:
- Provide a real-time glimpse into how their systems function, everything from machine performance to supply chain and logistics issues;
- Can automate procedures and cut labor costs;
- Lower manufacturing and delivery costs, increase consumer transaction transparency.
- Moreover, integrating IoT with essential business applications like business intelligence software will enable you to make data-driven decisions about the supply chain.
Supply chain agility
The global COVID-19 pandemic outbreak increased the demand for necessary personal protection equipment (PPE). This attracted thousands of businesses to join the market and become suppliers or manufacturers. These businesses gathered raw materials and manufacturing equipment in a few weeks or just a few days, manufactured new products, and created a market that hasn’t existed before.
The ability to adapt quickly to uncertainty helps businesses survive in such fragile situations. Nowadays, when climate change gets more severe and international trade faces more difficulties, businesses have to become agile more than ever to stay competitive and thrive.
Supply chain resilience
Supply chain resilience is defined as the adaptive ability to anticipate unforeseen circumstances, react to interruptions, and recover from them. The three main elements of a successful supply chain resilience strategy are people, processes, and technology.
Businesses should look for skilled supply chain managers, procurement specialists, and engineers who can bolster the company’s personnel and guide them through a challenging environment. After that, structure your team with one for managing commodities and another for managing suppliers. Your people should always get aware of new items, advancements in the supply chain, price adjustments, and other market activities.
Following people, the working process also plays a vital role. If employees are supported by reliable, efficient systems, they will perform at their highest level. Companies need to strengthen their processes in forecasting, inventory control, supplier management, and market research to boost supply chain resilience.
Technology can help all the mentioned processes to be completed more quickly and precisely. For instance, enterprise resource planning (ERP) and electronic data exchange platforms can offer baseline data to justify expenditures in purchasing, human resources, etc.
Besides, they offer rich data sets for managers to:
- Understand the procurement dynamics,
- Make decisions about customer needs, production schedules, logistics, and delivery requirements,
- Anticipate upcoming difficulties, such as shortages and respond swiftly to market shifts.
Customer-centric supply chain describes any attempts to enhance the customer journey from ordering to delivering goods. According to Gartner, 83% of businesses demand that supply chains enhance the customer experience as a component of their digital business strategy. As today’s customers are more demanding and easy to switch to other brands, retailers should offer outstanding customer service and personalized product recommendations. In other words, customer-centricity will be the future of supply chain management.
Supply chain visibility
Supply chain visibility is the ability to manage different products from initial shipment to final distribution. It helps improve every area of a business, including satisfying customer requests and boosting profitability. According to the GEODIS Supply Chain Worldwide Survey of 623 industry professionals in 17 countries, supply chain visibility is currently the third most important strategic priority.
The advanced visibility software can incorporate several management tools, such as ERP and warehouse to optimize the whole process and eliminate manual tasks and human error.
Increase focus on sustainability
More than 50% of industry carbon emission comes from retail supply chains. Increasing consumers’ expectations for sustainable delivery and logistics have put huge pressure on supply chain management. As a result, climate change adaptation, circular economy, ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance), and sustainability have become priorities in recent years and the main target in the future.
Supply chain forecasting
Demand forecasting helps ensure you have enough available stock to fulfill customers’ orders. Recently this job is more and more difficult as customer preferences alter due to product scarcity. In a report by MHI and Deloitte, 50% of companies said that forecasting was extremely challenging.
Using reliable software and artificial intelligence can simplify the projections. They help you identify your fast and slow-selling items or products that are about the end of life, anticipate new product trends, and seasonality.
Similar to other sectors, cybersecurity is becoming a big concern in supply chain management. Compared to the previous year, attacks on supply chain software in 2022 increased by more than 300%. Cyber attack activities can range from stealing sensitive customer data to holding data hostage for financial gain.
In 2023, all businesses need to evaluate the risk in their digital supply chains, and prepare scenarios to protect themselves.
The rise of eCommerce
The most obvious and well-known factor affecting today’s supply chains is perhaps the growth of eCommerce. Warehouses worldwide are crammed full, some even have merchandise piled up outside their doors. In actuality, this extraordinary demand squeeze marks the longest-growing peak in the next five years.
4 key factors impacting future supply chains
There are 4 key factors that have a huge impact on the future of supply chain management.
Shifting labor supply
In ten years, the labor supply is expected to change considerably. Scientists predict that economies in emerging countries will grow quickly, whereas industrialized ones will grow more slowly. This will encourage laborers to move to developing countries for work. Thus, when designing global supply networks, managers must take this international shift in the labor supply into account. Planning for supply chain talent will be significantly impacted by the trend as it continues.
Moreover, digital agility will be one of the most crucial abilities of supply chain personnel in the future. When many processes become more automated, this requires laborers to adapt quickly to technology changes and to apply advanced analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) in making decisions.
Gartner predicts that AI will generate $5 trillion in economic value by 2025. Here are several ways AI can alter the future supply chain.
- Firstly, businesses can utilize guided procurement via AI chatbots to streamline the interaction between suppliers, companies, and consumers.
- Secondly, warehouse and inventory managers can use machine learning to get real-time data and transform demand forecasting abilities.
- Last but not least, there will be more AI autonomous vehicles joining logistics distribution like shipping.
There’s still a long way to go before self-driving vehicles are widely adopted throughout the supply chain. However, autonomous fleets are positioned to alter how shipping and logistics operate in the future. They are expected to reduce the need for drivers and significantly increase fuel efficiency.
Waste production in a supply chain will be considered unacceptable in the near future due to its adverse impact on the global environment. With that said, businesses should find ways to optimize their operations to avoid and cut waste creation. This calls for retailers to support a circular economy where worn goods are returned, recycled, and then utilized in some other way.
Everything is connected
Data has been transferred in and out of the cloud which makes it possible for us to access it on our mobile devices anytime. The prevalence of digital sharing will increase by 2029, having a significant impact on decision-making, simulation, and teamwork.
Importance of supply chain technology
Provide easy access to information
Businesses can employ technology to gather and centralize data and make it accessible to all participants. Insights you should collect include customer behavior, network-wide knowledge like key supply chain operations, demands, and disruptions.
If many staff join supply chain management, it may make your backend heavy and slow. By using retail management PWA, you can control your operation from a separate frontend without logging into your backend. You now can check inventory status, product movement, warehouse activity, and much more swiftly and simply.
Improve insight collection
Insights are the basis for critical decisions. Decision support tools are included in supply chain technology to facilitate faster and better judgments. Businesses can use this to generate data and run real-time simulations based on various scenarios to compare various options. Understanding the tradeoffs with each scenario can help you make wiser selections.
Proper supply chain technology can boost agility. Thanks to improved access to information and simulations, executives may handle issues or develop new business opportunities much faster.
You can’t be agile if your organization, processes, or systems contain barriers. You must monitor events throughout the whole supply chain, evaluate their effects, and develop solutions. Modern technology can suggest the “best” actions to optimize your operations.
Ensure smooth collaboration
Successful supply chains incorporate technology and processes that facilitate and monitor collaboration between people, groups, and organizations to sustain data stream, analysis, and decisions. One distinguishing feature of highly competitive supply chains is their capacity to maintain synchronization across a wide network.
As the demands of multichannel consumers for choice, speed, and flexibility rise, collaboration is essential. Agility and reactivity, which only technology-enabled firms can provide, are necessary for successfully meeting these expectations.
Improve customer loyalty
The cost to acquire new customers is often higher than retaining them, thus having more loyal customers means having higher profits. When customers feel happy, they will come back and buy more.
Nowadays, customers prefer to shop from different channels. They can browse for their favorite items online and visit your stores to complete the purchase. This makes it more difficult for retailers to gather customer information and create a seamless shopping experience.
With the right technology, you can collect and store all customer data in one place for later analysis. Besides, it enables you to handle a huge data volume in real time and obtain a clear picture of how consumers engage with your brands. Based on this information, you can create a suitable plan to serve, nurture, and turn them into your loyal fans.
How to build a future-proof supply chain?
There is no 100% future-proof supply chain since we can’t predict the future exactly. However, businesses can apply some ways below to minimize the risks.
Localize your supplies
Localizing your supply chain is one approach to ensure that your company has all it needs to run efficiently and maximize its potential. Consider our suggestions below:
Build warehouses in or near your operating areas. You can avoid shipping and receiving goods from all over the world or store them until they are ready to be delivered. In addition, you can avoid dealing with exports and duties to save operating costs.
Hire local laborers. You’re creating more job opportunities and supporting local economic growth. This helps increase your brand awareness and reputation.
Buy raw materials from local suppliers and sell directly to local customers. People are more inclined to do business with you than your rivals when they notice that you support local enterprises.
Diversify your supply chain
Experts state that diversifying your investments lowers risk. So do supply chains—the more options you have, the more stable your inventory will be. Try to find dependable products and supplier substitutes for your inventory. In this case, you can refer to a 3rd-party or 4th-party fulfillment company to manage and keep your inventory flow stable.
Invest in customer experience
Customers now expect on-time delivery and their favorite items are always available when they need them. Therefore, businesses must adapt rapidly to changes in customer behaviors since failure to recognize and satisfy their needs may result in losing customers to your competitors.
Invest in automation
Supply chain executives are spending more money on automation to fill in the gaps that people can’t handle or automate repetitive tasks. This helps you minimize human errors and save resources for other important jobs to boost sales.
Prepare for new risks
Following the influence of COVID-19, more and more businesses are now spending more money on real-time data monitoring to keep them aware of impending fluctuations in demand. Besides, you also can prepare for unexpected events to reduce its negative impacts by:
Constructing backup plans: start by developing different scenarios for various demand environments.
- Reducing supply shock: maintain strong contact with current vendors while expanding your source of supplies.
- Controlling demand volatility: control panic buying circumstances while playing the part of a responsible store.
- Ensuring workplace safety: manage time, availability, and safety; equip supply chain workers with protective gear or apps for communication.
In general, no matter what happened during the pandemic, we are now in the new normal and still need to be aware of many upcoming changes. Acknowledging supply chain trends, the movement of modern technology, flexibility, and adaptability are key to success.
What will happen to the supply chain in 2023?
COVID-19 crisis, post-pandemic economic impacts, and the current conflict in Ukraine have exposed vulnerabilities in today’s global supply chain with many disruptions worldwide. To stay strong and move ahead, besides quality, service, and cost, supply chain management nowadays has to focus on building resilience, agility, and sustainability to tackle all possible coming events.
What are the biggest challenges in the supply chain in 2023?
There are many challenges that supply chains have to face in the coming years. Many supply chain executives state that geopolitical uncertainty and inflation are the biggest challenges to tackle.
Many families have been hard-hit by increasing food prices because of skyrocket inflation. The market for products and services has been disrupted as customers have had to cut off their spending. That makes it more difficult for supply chain planners to predict how much and what kind of commodities consumers will likely need.
Join the discussion One Comment
Great article on what we can expect for supply chain trends in 2023. I agree that artificial intelligence will change how supply chains operate dramatically. We are already seeing AI-driven robots becoming an essential part of the workforce for the hospitality industry. An AI developer is able to implement several technologies to program service robots for use in hospitality and facilitate a wide scope of functionalities with endless possibilities.