The year 2019 is shaping up to be a pivotal year for the supply chain industry as several global developments will put significant pressure on supply chains to digitize. Let’s consider three of the most critical factors:
1. A more unpredictable economic climate
We kick off 2019 with numerous economic uncertainties, including the consequences of the U.S. and China trade war, and the international impact of Britain formally exiting the European Union. Such economic turbulence can seriously undermine the revenue margins of companies. As an example, it's widely known that tariffs increase the price of importing raw materials from China; however, an issue like Brexit reduces consumer confidence, often resulting in fewer sales opportunities.
So to be able to survive the economic hardships of 2019, companies will be compelled to find ways to run more efficiently to offset the increased costs they will face. One method for them to achieve efficiency is by digitizing their supply chains. For instance, through the digitization of supply chain management, businesses will be able to automate time-consuming (and thereby costly) processes, such as manually entering data on purchase orders, and shipping documents, or researching and collating shipping schedules. With a digitized supply chain management platform, redundancies and tedious manual tasks are eliminated, allowing businesses to focus on more value-added and profitable tasks, such as negotiating better vendor prices.
2. A more unpredictable weather climate
2018 witnessed a relentless succession of natural disasters, including multiple devastating hurricanes battering the U.S., and major earthquakes in Greece, and Indonesia.
According to a recent report by the U.N. on climate change, the frequency of natural disasters is unlikely to let up anytime soon, in large part due to the slow action governments around the world have taken to alleviate global warming. We should consequently expect 2019 to feature more extreme weather events.
If this turns out to be the case, supply chains around the world will get severely disrupted, since natural disasters result in the cancellation of flights, the closure of ports, and the shutting down of highways. Companies will struggle to complete on time, in full delivery, and as a result, severely undermine their bottom lines.
That is unless they employ predictive analytics using a digitized supply chain platform, which predicts the impact that natural disasters (and other disruptions, such as transportation strikes) will have on company supply chains. In this way, firms will be fully prepared to mitigate supply chain disruptions by taking proactive measures, before it’s too late.
3. A more demanding consumer mindset
Thanks to the rise of Amazon Prime, e commerce and smart devices, the modern consumer is impatient and demands instant gratification. They expect the latest fashionable items to be in stock and ready for delivery within days, and not weeks. Record-breaking online sales on Black Friday in the West and Singles Day in the East, attest to the always-on, 24/7 contemporary consumer mindset.
2019 will be no different, and will likely see such attitudes further accentuated, in particular, because Generation Z (16 to 21-year-olds) is predicted to become the largest generation of consumers in the next few years. This young generation grew up using social media platforms, and are heavily influenced by online peers compared to prior generations, which means their preferences change rapidly. For this reason, it will be fundamental for retailers to ensure they can increase their speed to market to keep pace with such volatile consumer demands; an objective that can only be achieved through effective supply chain digitization, which provides real time visibility of the supply chain network, and allows data-driven decision making to facilitate in-store availability at all times.
Adapt or risk irrelevance
In light of the expected trends of 2019 highlighted above, companies are compelled to optimize their supply chains, or risk irrelevance and loss of market share to competitors who successfully adapt to the changing circumstances.
Is your supply chain ready to confront the challenges of 2019?
At Gravity Supply Chain Solutions, we can help your business be in the best possible shape to tackle 2019, guiding you on the journey of supply chain digital transformation and optimization.
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