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We live in an on-demand culture. Today’s customer expects to receive items that they purchase within a couple days, no matter where it’s coming from. With this instant-gratification culture, smaller and mid-sized companies are feeling the pressure to keep up with larger, global enterprises. How will these supply chain trends shape 2019?

Express Shipping and In-Store Pickup: The Proliferation of Immediacy

Walmart, Target, and Best Buy—all of these retailers have been relentlessly competing with each other to better serve the customer. Many companies have doubled down on their express shipping services as a way to make up for not having brick-and-mortar locations, while big box stores have ensured that customers can find most goods 24 hours a day.

This is something that has become a consumer expectation. People now expect to be able to receive anything they need within just a couple of days. Unless stores want to maintain a constant inventory of all of their available products, they need technology and better warehouse management.

The Impact of Immediacy on Supply Chain Operations

Supply chain trends are forcing companies to be more agile and responsive. Supply chain operations are changing in a few major ways:

  • Automation. Technology is being used to find the most efficient methods of transferring products through warehouses and distribution channels, ensuring that all products arrive as needed. With better automation there are fewer mistakes, and supplies can be routed faster and more effectively.
  • Larger volumes of distribution centers. Rather than maintaining a handful of large distribution centers, a network of smaller distribution centers is increasingly more popular. These smaller centers are able to be more agile, with products being routed and re-routed through them in order to arrive at their destination faster. In order to route technology in this way, software solutions are needed.
  • Forecasted inventory management. Companies are using advanced machine learning and AI technologies to predict which inventory items they need to keep in stock. Intelligent inventory management is able to predict what customers want on demand to reduce the amount of unnecessary warehouse inventory.

Consumer Expectations and the Modern Supply Chain

Not only do customers want their products to arrive swiftly, but they want full transparency during the process. They want to know where their product is at any given time. They also reserve the right to change their minds. If someone no longer wants a product, a hassle-free return policy is expected. All of these things increase the complexity of the modern supply chain, which must be able to alter the course of supplies on demand with automated functions to remain profitable.

Adjusting Your Supply Chain to Meet Growing Demands

Supply chain management in 2019 is more complex than ever, with even large enterprises struggling to keep up with the standards established by major brands. How can you adjust your supply chain to meet these demands? For most businesses, supply chain management is going to start with inventory management—keeping up with changing customer desires to stock the right product at all times.

Supply chain management suites and distribution platforms can help an organization better manage their business processes, as can automated warehousing solutions. Organizations need to achieve better tracking for their deliverable items, while also fine-tuning their procurement with technology.

It's a new world of logistics, and many companies are going to find that their old supply chain processes aren't up to par with new standards. Technology is the only solution—better technology can be used to optimize existing supply chain processes, predict where goods need to go, and identify potential shortfalls. For more information on how technology can help your business modernize its supply chain, contact AFFLINK.

Image of Michael Wilson
About Michael Wilson

Michael Wilson is AFFLINK'S Vice President of Marketing and Communications. He has been with the organization since 2005 and provides strategic leadership for the entire supply chain team. In his free time, Michael enjoys working with the Wounded Warrior Project, fishing, and improving his cooking skills.

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