Article | May 31, 2021
Supply chain is the backbone of any business. Since there is a supply chain in existence, you can buy whatever product you want. The supply chain is evolving since the Industrial Revolution, and it is still changing, and the evolution journey is fascinating. Before moving forward with the article, first, let's understand supply chain and supply chain management.
What is a Supply Chain?
A supply chain is an entire process of producing and selling commercial goods, beginning with the procurement of raw materials and ending with the distribution and sale of the goods. The supply chain ensures that a product is available in the right place, at the right time, and the lowest possible cost while ensuring the product quality. The supply chain aims to provide the maximum value to the customer at the minimum likely costs. The supply chain is the single most significant expense for businesses, and it provides them with a tremendous opportunity to improve and increase savings and profit margins. The price of most products is competitive in the market, but the supply chain determines the product's profit margin. The demand for products and services fluctuates for various reasons, and meeting this fluctuating demand with a higher degree of quality requires knowledge of supply chain management. Effective supply chain management is essential for any business to compete in the market.
What is Supply Chain Management?
Supply chain management is an essential factor in a business's long-term success. The management of how goods and services evolve from raw materials to products sold to consumers is known as supply chain management. It includes the processes of transporting and storing raw materials, storing finished goods until they sell, and tracking where sold goods go so that you can use the data to boost future sales. Supply Chain Management includes all aspects of business activities, including logistics, purchasing, and information technology. Materials, finances, suppliers, manufacturing plants, wholesalers, retailers, and consumers are all combined into a single system. A business with a well-managed supply chain can significantly reduce all operating costs associated with that chain, resulting in higher profits. The main goal of effective supply chain management is to increase profitability by improving customer satisfaction and reducing business costs. Profits improve as expenses are in control and reduced when possible. When the costs of purchasing raw materials and manufacturing goods drop, the operating costs also decrease.
Challenges in Supply Chain Management
There are many challenges related to supply chain management. In this section, we will focus on some of the most significant supply chain management challenges.
• Visibility: It is a significant issue in supply chain management. Businesses are unable to track all international cargo. The majority of data on the ocean or air shipments is often unavailable. Between 2008 and 2016, an average of 600 containers lost at sea (it does not include catastrophic incidents). These figures are concerning because the amount of cargo shipped over time is rapidly rising.
• Uncertainty: Uncertainty has been difficult in supply chain management. Demand planning is essential because many businesses have massive amounts of leftovers. If it is perishable, it is thrown away. There is a lot of waste, and it's all because of bad planning. In addition, initial raw materials may be unreliable, or lead time may be unpredictable. It isn't easy to be confident of any part of the supply chain, mainly because it is an extensive system.
• Customer Service: Supply chain management is all about getting the right product to the correct location at the right time. It seems easy at first, but it can quickly become complicated.
• Cost Management: Increasing energy/fuel and freight costs, a more significant number of global customers, technology, rising labor wages, new regulations, and rising commodity prices all strain operating costs.
• Planning and Risk Management: Annual reviews and redesigns are needed to be efficient and effective. These changes are in reaction to market changes, such as new product releases, global sourcing, credit availability, and the need to protect intellectual property. To monitor and minimize these threats, they must be identified and quantified.
• Supplier/Partner Relationship Management: It is crucial to create, understand, and follow mutually agreed standards to understand current performance and areas for improvement better. Using two separate approaches to measure and communicate performance results is a waste of time and resources. Trusting the system that was in place to ensure consistency and better supplier/partner relationships is necessary.
Emerging Trends in Supply Chain
The supply chain process is continuously evolving. The emerging supply chain and logistics trends prioritize intelligent, tech-driven management to minimize operational costs and enhance efficiency. The logistics and supply chain aspect is vital for any business in supplying high-quality raw materials, ensuring an efficient manufacturing process, and tracking, shipping, and storing finished goods.
Companies that implement well-designed supply chain practices can satisfy customer needs more quickly and efficiently. This improves customer relationships and loyalty, resulting in increased revenue and the acquisition of new customers through positive word of mouth.
Let's look at some significant emerging trends that are expected to shape and develop supply chain operations in the future.
Digitization of Supply Chains
Digitization is the process of reinventing logistics operations by combining the latest technology with other physical and digital assets. Digitization allows us to better adapt to the fast-paced, highly competitive, omnichannel business environment.
Digitization increases the speed, dynamics, and resiliency of supply chain operations, resulting in improved customer responsiveness and, ultimately, increased revenue. Companies that embrace digitalization can gain genuine value, improved revenue, and market valuation.
Companies should significantly redesign their supply chain strategy to gain the full benefits of digitization. It is not enough to decorate it with digital technology.
The Internet of Things (IoT) occupies a significant position in digitalization as a highly transformational technology solution in the logistics sphere. The Internet of Things (IoT) is a network of interconnected computing devices that allows data to be sent over networks without human input. It assists businesses in monitoring inventory, managing warehouse stock, optimizing fleet routes, and reducing dead miles.
Advanced Artificial Intelligence solutions have several uses in the supply chain, particularly in the warehousing area. The procurement process involves using gesture recognition solutions instead of keyboard and mouse. It also includes self-driving vehicles, which are designed to navigate without human assistance.
In the supply chain, the concept of robotics and automation is widely implemented. The new generation of robots is easier to program, more flexible, and more affordable. Their job is to help employees with repetitive and physically challenging tasks.
Enhanced Supply Chain Visibility
Proper supply chain data analysis can significantly boost business forecasting and decision-making. It can also optimize the use of inventory management, storage, and transportation resources.
Supply chain visibility provides information on what is happening at each stage of the supply chain. It is crucial for the overall efficiency of the supply chain process, which includes sourcing, manufacturing, transportation, and delivery.
Real-time inventory management is one of the advantages of enhanced chain visibility. It uses mobile point-of-sale systems and sensors, and it elevates inventory management to a whole new level.
For example, instead of paying for purchased goods at a store, customers can take the desired products and have the products immediately charged to their credit and debit cards. Furthermore, real-time inventory management allows for the replacement of goods as they are consumed.
Circular Supply Chain
The term "linear supply chain" refers to the traditional concept where goods travel in a straight line (from raw material to finished product). Modern logistics techniques are focused on the circular supply chain idea, which involves reusing previously, used products as raw materials.
Reusing products and materials is referred to as reverse logistics, and it is a novel and innovative technique. It assists businesses in reducing administrative and transportation expenses, increasing sustainability, improving customer service and loyalty, creating value, and conserving resources.
Used products can be kept in circulation if businesses work together with their suppliers and customers.
More focus on Risk Management and Supply Chain Resiliency
Without a doubt, companies must seriously consider supply chain risk management as a means to prepare for unfavorable circumstances. The increasing use of outsourcing, offshoring, product versatility, supply chain security, and significant interdependence across the supply chain highlights the need to deal with risks in the supply chain.
However, no matter how solid the plan is, it cannot prevent errors from happening. Here's where supply chain resilience comes into play. It is an accurate indicator of a company's ability to survive disruptive circumstances.
Visibility throughout the supply chain is necessary to detect disruptions, close collaboration with suppliers and distributors so that alternative supply routes can be found, and a good incident response plan to provide a course of action when disruption occurs are all steps that are important to make the supply chain more flexible and resilient.
Use of SaaS in the Supply Chain
The software-as-a-service (SaaS) Sapproach is growing in popularity in supply chain technology and logistics management and the growth of cloud computing. This is primarily due to SaaS's security and safety and the convenience of paying for precisely the services you require. Companies can avoid the high fixed costs of system maintenance, upgrades, and infrastructure-related expenditures by using SaaS.
Supply chains are continuously evolving technology, and the diversity of employee skill sets is playing an essential role in this evolution. Organizations are becoming more conscious of changes in their market competition and continuously updating or even reinventing their market offering to maintain and develop their market positioning.
Many companies are already turning to technology to improve their supply chain operations; however, before new systems are implemented and employees are upskilled to adapt to new ways of working, existing processes must be reviewed to eliminate waste activities from the supply chain, and data must be cleansed. To meet consumer demands, supply chains must be constantly checked for efficiency improvements and aligned with corporate strategy. At present, many organizations are reviewing the length of their supply chains, intending to minimize the overall size and bring supply chains closer to the organization or the end consumer, reduce risk exposure, eliminate waste, and align with corporate strategy.
• What are the three foundations of supply chain?
The three foundations of a supply chain are strategy, service, and cost. Aligning the strategy, service and cost is essential to support your company’s overall business growth and objectives. A good strategy along with good service and reduced costs helps in increasing profitability and customer satisfaction.
• What are the pillars of supply chain?
Plan, Source, Make, Deliver and Return are the pillars of supply chain.
Planning involves strategies and methods to be planned, Sourcing means procuring raw materials and other services, Making means manufacturing, Deliver means ensuring that the products reach the customers on time and Return means post delivery customer support that is associated with all kinds of returned products.
• Why supply chain management is important?
The management of how goods and services evolve from raw materials to products sold to consumers is known as supply chain management. It includes the processes of transporting and storing raw materials, storing finished goods until they sell, and tracking where sold goods go so that you can use the data to boost future sales. A business with a well-managed supply chain can significantly reduce all operating costs associated with that chain, resulting in higher profits. The main goal of effective supply chain management is to increase profitability by improving customer satisfaction and reducing business costs.
"name": "What are the three foundations of supply chain?",
"text": "The three foundations of a supply chain are strategy, service, and cost. Aligning the strategy, service and cost is essential to support your company’s overall business growth and objectives. A good strategy along with good service and reduced costs helps in increasing profitability and customer satisfaction."
"name": "What are the pillars of supply chain?",
"text": "Plan, Source, Make, Deliver and Return are the pillars of supply chain.
Planning involves strategies and methods to be planned, Sourcing means procuring raw materials and other services, Making means manufacturing, Deliver means ensuring that the products reach the customers on time and Return means post delivery customer support that is associated with all kinds of returned products."
"name": "Why supply chain management is important?",
"text": "The management of how goods and services evolve from raw materials to products sold to consumers is known as supply chain management. It includes the processes of transporting and storing raw materials, storing finished goods until they sell, and tracking where sold goods go so that you can use the data to boost future sales. A business with a well-managed supply chain can significantly reduce all operating costs associated with that chain, resulting in higher profits. The main goal of effective supply chain management is to increase profitability by improving customer satisfaction and reducing business costs."
Article | April 15, 2020
The rapid growth of e-commerce continues to create new challenges for retailers as they plan distribution strategies. One of those challenges is managing the high volume of returns. One in three shoppers returns items, and more than half read a company’s returns policy before making a purchase. Retailers lose $50 billion annually due to inefficiencies in processing returns, and distribution centers handling returns need 15% to 20% more space than a traditional facility.
Article | October 19, 2020
Warehouse logistics is the heart of any supply chain operation, assimilating and dispatching goods to ensure availability and timely delivery. With more consumers turning to e-commerce, it’s important for businesses of all sizes to bolster the supply chain to handle the e-commerce business model. According to research conducted by BigCommerce, the top three factors that influence consumers’ online purchasing decisions are convenience, cost and free shipping. In fact, the National Retail Federation (NRF) found that 75% of consumers expect delivery to be free even for orders under $50.
Article | July 29, 2021
Risk management has been a problem for as long as supply chains have existed. Because of the interdependence of all its connections, even a minor issue in one isolated region has the potential to jeopardize a whole global supply chain. As a result, when major global trends and events occur, the potential for widespread supply chain disruption is enormous.
Global supply chain risks and market disruptions have reached an all-time high. The most notable of them is the COVID-19 pandemic. In a 2020 survey, the Institute for Supply Management discovered that 95% of companies faced operational issues due to the pandemic. As a result, business executives all around the globe believe that if they want to be more resilient and competitive in the present market, they need to modernize and make significant changes to their supply chain strategy.
Other recent factors that have had a significant impact on traditional supply chain practices include the fast pace of change in consumer behaviors and a pretty unstable trade and political environment.
In the last ten years, e-commerce spending has tripled, and internet shopping had increased by 149% in 2020 compared to the previous year. With the growth of e-commerce, there has been a rise in customer demand for faster delivery and more personalized shopping experiences. The Amazon Effect refers to the growing expectation for same-day delivery and its effect on businesses and logistical networks. To be resilient enough to react to these rising demands, supply chain managers have had to make fast and significant modifications to their logistics and warehousing networks, as well as discover new ways to collaborate with third-party fulfillment partners.
Even before the impact of COVID-19, American businesses were attempting to reduce their dependence on foreign manufacturers and suppliers. Foreign tariffs and trade policies had become more unpredictable by 2019, and businesses were seeking technological solutions to make the supply chains more self-sufficient and resilient. As a result, integrating digital transformation and Industry 4.0 technology into supply chain operations is quickly becoming a top concern for global business leaders.
How does Supply Chain Resilience Work?
A flexible contingency plan and the ability to react swiftly to operational disruptions are important characteristics of effective supply chain management. However, to be truly resilient, a supply chain must be able to predict and anticipate disruptions and, in many cases, avoid them entirely.
Strategic supply chain planning is an important step in achieving resilience because it synchronizes all supply chain components and increases visibility and agility. Supply and demand needs are better understood, and production is synchronized due to supply chain planning. This integrated, forward-thinking approach assists businesses in better anticipating problems, reducing the impact of supply chain disruptions, and improving overall operations.
When a business has the digital systems to analyze and make sense of Big Data, it significantly improves supply chain resilience. Artificial intelligence-enabled systems can curate disparate data sets from across the business and the globe. To discover trends and opportunities, news, competitor activity, sales reports, and even customer feedback can be examined together. The system's connected devices are constantly monitored, providing real-time insights about where and how processes can be automated and improved. For instance, AI, machine learning, and modern databases acquire and handle Big Data and analyze and learn from it in an almost infinite number of ways. This enables intelligent automation across the network and provides supply chain managers with the real-time insights they require to respond quickly to disruption and unexpected events.
Supply chain managers have traditionally sought to limit the number of partners and suppliers in their network to minimize operational and logistical complexity. This approach is based on the stability of the social, environmental, and political systems. Unexpected disruptions in one region can slow or even stop network operations across the board. Supply chain resilience technologies, such as blockchain, sensors, and advanced analytics, enable supply chain managers to monitor complex partnerships and supplier contracts even in the most remote parts of their network.
Profitability in the supply chain has always been dependent on minimizing excess and keeping inventories as lean as possible. Capacity and inventory buffers are expensive, and supply chain managers have often bet against disruptions to keep prices low. When the pandemic struck, many businesses discovered the real cost of the gamble. Supply chain operations can involve on-demand manufacturing, virtual inventories, and predictive demand forecasting using digital supply chain technologies to remain resilient, even in times of unexpected disruption.
Benefits of a Resilient Supply Chain
Finding a successful balance between supply and demand is a significant issue for any supply chain manager in an increasingly competitive market. Many businesses that have cut costs on diversification, supply chain technology, and other resilience measures have lately discovered the true cost of those choices. However, when businesses engage in diversification, supply chain technologies, and other resilience measures, they can achieve a variety of business benefits, including:
More efficient operations: Better resilience often results in less risk and a greater capacity to invest in innovation and growth. For example, according to a 2020 global business analysis conducted by Bain and Company, businesses that prioritized their investment in supply chain resilience had up to 60% quicker product development cycles and were able to increase production capacity by up to 25%.
Enhanced productivity: Resilient supply chain solutions lead to the overall system increased productivity. According to a McKinsey 2020 survey, supply chain leaders from across the world report increased productivity due to resilient supply chain systems, and 93% of those surveyed plan to prioritize resilient supply chain strategies for investment in the next year.
Risk reduction: Supply chain activities are often the most vulnerable to risk and loss in many businesses. Supply chains, by nature, are geographically distributed and functionally complex. As a result, supply chains are particularly vulnerable to risk. Resilient supply chain technologies minimize risk by providing insight into all network operations and enabling companies to improve and adjust their processes and logistics in real-time.
Technologies for an Agile Supply Chain
Digital transformation and modern supply chain technology provide businesses with the resilience and competitive advantage they need to react swiftly to disruptions and opportunities.
Artificial intelligence (AI): AI-powered supply chain systems can offer deep procedural and operational insights by gathering and analyzing data from many sources. Predictive analytics and Big Data analysis can assist in predicting risk and demand and recommending measures and reactions in the company.
Machine learning: Machine learning enables the discovery of patterns in supply chain data and the identification of these influential factors - all while constantly learning. This enables supply chain managers to react fast with the finest workflows and operational strategies available.
Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT): The IIoT network in a supply chain comprises connected devices and objects with sensors and unique IDs that allow them to transmit and receive digital data. They collect information and communicate with the central system. AI can analyze and understand this data to enable quick decisions and intelligent automation of supply chain operations and procedures.
Additive (3D) printing: Smart factories can quickly reprogram 3D printers to produce specific products on-demand without disrupting regular business operations in the long run. The accessibility of potential virtual inventories enables supply chains to defend themselves against disruption.
Robots and autonomous things: Robots and drones, which are intelligently automated for speed, efficiency, and accuracy, can adapt their operations on the go to meet quickly changing requirements. They also reduce the risk of harm by eliminating overly repetitive or dangerous tasks from human workers.
Modern databases: The resilient supply chain solutions rely on Big Data, advanced analytics, and real-time insights from modern databases. Supply chain technology can be improved to operate faster and most resilient when equipped with a modern ERP system and an in-memory database.
Resilience means more than just surviving a disruption in operations. A fully resilient supply chain and businesses survive hardship and use it to innovate and improve their business. Building a resilient supply chain is very important in this modern era because disruptions like a pandemic, wars, climate change, etc., are occurring a lot these days. A resilient supply chain helps businesses to survive and thrive even during tough times. To read more about ways to boost supply chain performance, click here.
What is supply chain resilience?
Supply chain resilience refers to the supply chain's capacity to be prepared for unexpected risk events, react and recover swiftly to potential disruptions, and grow by shifting to a new, more desirable state in order to improve customer service, market share, and financial performance.
How is supply chain resilience measured?
A supply chain's resilience index is calculated by aggregating its company's resilience index. Given that supply chain company's performance influences overall supply chain performance, supply chain resilience should be measured using the companies' resilience index.
"name": "What is supply chain resilience?",
"text": "Supply chain resilience refers to the supply chain's capacity to be prepared for unexpected risk events, react and recover swiftly to potential disruptions, and grow by shifting to a new, more desirable state in order to improve customer service, market share, and financial performance."
"name": "How is supply chain resilience measured?",
"text": "A supply chain's resilience index is calculated by aggregating its company's resilience index. Given that supply chain company's performance influences overall supply chain performance, supply chain resilience should be measured using the companies' resilience index."