6 Trends in Supply Chain Management & Distribution You Might Not Know

Posted by Kelly Wathen

Supply chain management and distribution generally stay the course for a while and don’t undergo serious changes very often. Of course one of the largest trends was the adoption of the computer, to catalog and keep track of where everything is and where everything was going. That was beyond huge and that trend, to implement computers, literally changed the industry as it was known.

Well, here are some trends we've been following on the Cerasis  blog to look out for in the future that have the potential to make big changes that businesses should keep an eye on.

warehouse.jpgeCommerce

Once again, computers rule while brick and mortar establishments are struggling to keep up.

It isn’t surprising that eCommerce continues to grow. Ecommerce offers users convenience and cuts down on overhead for suppliers. You can shop sitting at your computer desk and your shipments generally come from the factory or local centers, so there is little delay in getting a product out. The items you order are created and stocked, depending on the ordering volume, and there are many shipping options that can be used. eCommerce is growing exponentially while brick and mortar distributors are beginning to feel the pinch.

Drones

You may think that drones are either for the military or for hobbyists who like to take photographs from the air. While that may be true at the moment, many companies are beginning to explore drone delivery of products. In fact, Amazon has already allocated funds for testing delivery drones, and this form of shipping is going to happen sooner rather than later.

Localized Regional Centers

The only place where mortar and brick establishments have a chance is through localized regional centers. Huge central warehouses are going to be a thing of the past as smaller distribution centers allow suppliers to get orders out faster, charge less for shipping, and have a quicker delivery time.

Collaboration

This is a sticky subject for distributors who have always competed with each other for the best service rendered. However, times have changed, and distributors are going to have to begin collaborating with each other or potentially lose business if others can get products shipped faster and quicker.

This may be the most difficult aspect of the new business trends. Customers are finicky, and as local distribution centers come to the fore, the customer will not want to wait for items ordered, essentially wanting to order multiple items from different places and getting them delivered during the same time period. The only way that is going to happen is through collaboration, and those distribution centers that refuse to collaborate will be dropped in favor of others who do collaborate.

Analytics

From ordering, distributing, stocking, manufacturing, and even delivery, analytics are going to take center stage.

This is the newest form of the computer revolution and it is going to be one of the most important. Right now, analytics can track where page reviews are coming from, and that opens up a gigantic customer base to tap into.

A retailer can target those exact same types of customers all across the Internet, which will potentially boost sales in a specific market.

Distribution centers can use analytics to keep the most preferred items stocked, and even trucker’s routes and deliveries can be analyzed to ensure the fastest and most efficient ways to get a delivery made. Although analytics are already a part of the business, they will grow greatly across the entire spectrum in both the supply and distribution sector.

Automation

Human beings will always be a part of the supply chain and distribution, but, ideally in the world of eCommerce, automation is going to be the key.

Nothing can source, pick, package, and send out a package faster than a machine, and every step that can be automated will be.

Yes, humans will have to control these machines to get the job done, but as automation becomes more and more common (you just have to look at the robots working in the auto industry for proof) humans are going to play a far lesser role in every aspect of supply management and distribution in the future. That's not fiction, that's a trend that is already becoming a fact. 

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This post was published on August 30, 2016 and updated on August 27, 2019.

Topics: Supply Chain

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