Wow, we’re now into 2022 and let’s just say everyone is learning that half of business is staying in the game and the other half is innovating so you can continue growing. What a roller coaster ride for supple chains. So with all of these changes, there are a few trends, that in my opinion, may be here to stay. Let’s look into these.
Supply Chain – Digital Transformation
Via Wikipedia, “Digital Transformation is the adoption of digital technology to transform services or businesses, through replacing non-digital or manual processes with digital processes or replacing older digital technology with newer digital technology.” You will see more manufacturing, distribution and service companies building and maintaining meaningful websites, customer portals and eCommerce platforms. Even established manufacturers have learned Brand Recognition and Internet “Searchability” will be crucial to expand, compete or gain revenues.
Supply Chain Disruption
Not to be Captain Obvious, but due to the Covid Situation, port troubles, demand fluctuations, political, and economic changes plus even weather related issues, ordering supplies and maintaining the proper amount of inventory is going to be tough. Understanding what you have in your warehouse(s) and maintaining accurate inventory control is more important now than ever. Without an accurate basis, any type of MRP/DRP or Collaborative Supply Chain Network is useless. Being better prepared and understanding it’s not going to be as easy as before can only help your operations.
Analytics and Artificial Intelligence Is On the Rise
Data is now more important than ever. Accurate information is the new “Gold” contributing billions of business benefits including cost reduction, services, customer experience, sales, forecasting and pin-pointed marketing. We’re even seeing “Machine Learning” wherein machines are simulating human intelligence.
More Customer Service Options Will Give You an Edge with Consumers
Remember those good old days when you wanted something, you simply went to the store, purchased the item and brought it home? Although the economy and retail will open up again, it may never be the same. Smart companies are learning quickly that offering more options for Internet Orders and making their Websites and eCustomer Carts more informational and User-friendly are giving them an advantage.
Additional customer service options such as being more flexible with returns and offering pre-paid no hassle shipping return labeled boxes/bags will make you the better choice for consumers. Offering more shipping selections and rates including free or faster for a price, will also help you gain more eCommerce Sales. Ship to hold locations (to prevent those nasty little porch pirates) and even ship to and from stores are additional options people have come to expect. A User friendly internet experience and safe design with your website are crucial. One feature I’d like to see more companies use, from personal experience, is a smart “cart” that explains before you check out that the product is out of stock and delivery will be delayed.
In conclusion, these trends will be around for a while. This still does not mean it’s going to be impossible to succeed. Now more than ever, people, yes people, are going to need to communicate effectively, work together, collaborate and help one another.