Overcoming Obstacles in 2020 to Optimize the Digital Supply Chain - Global Trade Magazine
  January 31st, 2020 | Written by

Overcoming Obstacles in 2020 to Optimize the Digital Supply Chain

[shareaholic app="share_buttons" id="13106399"]

Sharelines

  • In this increasingly complex industry, the supply chain will never be immune to disruptions.
  • Thanks to a culture of instant gratification, customers want what they want, where and when they want it.
  • With advanced technology-driven solutions, organizations have the ability to reduce waste and capacity constraints.

The logistics and supply chain market is transforming quickly. For the stakeholders involved, managing multiple partners, high customer expectations, siloed IT systems and dynamic conditions is a challenge. I recently shared my predictions for the supply chain and logistics industry and what global and domestic businesses can do to prepare for success in the new year. But, exactly how can businesses prepare for and confront some of the biggest barriers in 2020?

Transportation capacity constraints lead to inflated prices and significant waste.

In the supply chain, the saying “time is money” is particularly meaningful. Digital freight forwarder, Zencargo, analyzed more than 100 shipments from across the UK and found that more than 100 million hours are wasted per year in procurement, supplier management and freight-administration functions, for a total annual cost of nearly $2 billion.

With the state of capacity constraints, the transportation industry is a key contributor to the waste and inflated prices in logistics and supply chain processes. In the United States alone, 15 to 25 percent of trucks on the road are empty — and for non-empty miles, trailers are 36 percent underutilized. The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) advises that capturing just half of this underutilized capacity would cut freight truck emissions by 100 million tons per year and reduce expenditures on diesel fuel by more than $30 billion a year. According to EDF, the movement of goods currently accounts for nine percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, which is nearly 500 million metric tons annually in direct emissions.

On top of that, due to the fuel emissions produced by this sector it is responsible for an additional 100 million tons of climate pollution each year. Globally, trucks are the largest source of freight emissions (57 percent), and the emissions resulting from transportation vehicles and logistics operations contribute significantly to air pollution and unhealthy air quality.

With advanced technology-driven solutions, organizations have the ability to reduce waste and capacity constraints. By leveraging artificial intelligence and GPS devices to optimize shipping routes on an international, national and local scale, companies can decrease the distance and time involved in shipping products. In addition to optimizing planned routes, advanced analytics can also be utilized to take account of congestion and update routes in real-time. Through the use of technology, companies of all sizes can reduce carbon emissions and drive sustainability across the supply chain.

Looking ahead, I believe we will continue to see a concerted effort to reduce waste in the supply chain. We need to. The potential of an orchestrated, collaborative supply chain that addresses environmental and social challenges is profound. It is the responsibility of the industry to make the movement of goods sustainable. Across industries, leading with purpose, ethics and social responsibility is a model that resonates with businesses — including employees, partners, stakeholders, as well as with customers.

In fact, today’s consumers expect companies to meet a certain set of ethical standards to gain their buy-in. Companies that don’t address sustainability issues are at risk of losing business. Eliminating the empty miles and excess CO2 emissions will become a bigger focus for smaller companies as larger organizations use sustainability initiatives and ethical standards as criteria when selecting supply chain partners. Prepare for tomorrow, today by maximizing capacity and minimizing empty miles.

Increasing customer demands and faster delivery expectations

Due to rising customer demands and unprecedented expectations for product availability and expedited delivery, companies’ transportation spend is skyrocketing — and will continue to accelerate. Thanks to a culture of instant gratification, customers want what they want, where and when they want it — and that means they want it immediately. According to findings from Dropoff, 69 percent of consumers would not purchase from a retailer again if their delivery was late. Keeping up with the high customer demand brought on by events like Cyber Monday can be challenging for companies and especially exhausting resource-wise. However, this elevated pressure offers an opportunity to optimize and reduce costs.

In 2019, holiday retail sales grew 4.1 percent over the same period in 2018 to $730.2 billion, NRF reported. Online shopping sales during the winter holiday season increased 14.6% in 2019, accounting for $167.8 billion of the total. Given the high-demand of the holiday season, companies in 2020 should look to implement technologies, such as dynamic mapping, to ensure products are delivered efficiently and on-time to their final destinations.

With dynamic mapping, retailers can gain real-time visibility into their products, receiving exception alerts and recommendations, including dynamic predictive ETA. In addition, use of solutions like dynamic mapping provides real-time analysis, based on data from inside and outside their network, delivering the most accurate dynamic visibility available.

Digital Supply Chain 2020

In this increasingly complex industry, the supply chain will never be immune to disruptions — some things are simply unpredictable. But moving forward in 2020, one thing is certain: the ability to rapidly innovate and adapt will be vital for companies in the supply chain ecosystem. To effectively manage expectations and strategize for the year ahead, businesses should take a proactive approach to addressing any obstacles in their path and face challenges head on. Prioritizing sustainability as a strategic initiative is imperative for all businesses, across industries. Companies should equip themselves with the talent, tools and resources to navigate disruptions and deliver real results in 2020 and beyond.