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Redefining the role of supply chain and staying ahead of the game

Successfully integrated supply chains link complex business connections around the world. It is these networks, upon which traditional supply chain models have run smoothly for years.

Yet with recent disruptions including the COVID-19 pandemic and other potential future threats of digital transformation and cyber-attacks brewing potential for companies to be compromised, it seems that supply chain leaders must now begin to redefine the role of their supply chains, to stay ahead of unpredictable change.

Circumventing disaster is not always straight forward, and not only maintaining all of a supply chain’s modules, but also continually upgrading, can be what makes all the difference to whether a business can provide reliable delivery of products and services.

As well as unprecedented occurrences, a whole host of ever-evolving technologies are continuing to alter the way that supply chains are managed. Collaborative Robots (Cobots) Artificial Intelligence (AI), and Big Data and The Internet of Things (IoT) reach beyond the realms of ordinary supply chain management and can support alternative tasks to inventory management, including risk management, customer service, and ordering supplies.

Redefining the role of the supply chain, Coronavirus has driven many changes within company’s business models - whether it has been wholesalers who due to closure have been forced to restructure their services and offer eCommerce options for consumers, or high street businesses who have had to adapt to a steep increase in their online sales due to traditional retail closures - there has been high-pressure for rapid adaption to change to remain trading, and retain a sustainable and profitable business model within lockdown’s ‘new normal’.

Exploring key technologies, Supply Chain Network (SCN) predicts the following affects upon supply chain management in 2020 and beyond...

Data Analysis and Cloud Computing

Some of the top priorities within the supply chain industry, are improving quality of service, performance management, and investment into data analytics. IoT, data platforms, and blockchain provide an astounding level of data accessibility and convenience. Now we are more reliant on technology due to social distancing measures, and keeping businesses running during the lockdown, open-source technology never comes without its risk. Never the less, 65% of executives in the logistics, transportation, and supply chain sectors report changes in industry processes. Supply chains can use this data to track supply, communicate effectively with suppliers and manufacturers, and effectively analyse consumer statistics to serve the improvement of future acquisitions, to gain more targeted and useful business, whilst improving and increasing sales.

Customer Service Tech and Social Media as Tools

Figures from Finance Online report that a majority of industry professionals (70%) predict that supply chains will be key drivers of better customer service before the end of 2020. With COVID-19 lockdown measures in place, our most traditional method of communication – being face to face – was prohibited to prevent the spread of disease. Instead, emails, Chatbots, phone calls, and video chats, all online methods of media, enabled us to continue with ‘business as normal’ to a certain extent. Enabling connectivity and instant communication, social media provides a sense of visibility for the consumer. An especially important tool for supply chains since the increase in online retail due to lockdown; whilst also focussed on improving customer support for delayed or lost deliveries, providing track and trace technology, and also updates for estimated arrivals, throughout the supply chain.

Small Businesses, wholesalers, and eCommerce

As Business Rate Relief for retail companies does not include wholesale agents and distributors, many suppliers have adopted innovative business models to keep afloat. Whether this is grocers, bakers, and other wholesale retailers of items that are critical to life, many operations have been adapted to eCommerce or local Direct to Consumer home delivery models. Replacing traditional wholesale models, statistics from Finance online predict that 50% of manufacturing supply chains will be able to make direct-to-consumption shipments and home delivery by 2020.

Whilst an increasing number of disruptions continue to threaten traditional supply chain models, it is more important than ever for businesses to prepare and continue to improve upon new business models, to successfully adapt to the unprecedented changes that both environmental and economic challenges can trigger.

Find out more about how SCN can help you keep ahead of the trends throughout 2020 and beyond. Email: Or call: 01423 815 941

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