While traditional retail isn’t dead, e-commerce sales are here to stay. Last mile service use has increased 50% since 2016, and even established brick-and-mortar chains are adopting their own immediate fulfillment services to have more control over delivery. Businesses are recognizing that being able to get their products to doorsteps at the customer’s convenience is what will make or break them.
US manufacturing activity dropped slightly in March. According to a report by the Institute for Supply Management, factory owners are increasingly concerned about how new trade restrictions levied by the Trump Administration will affect them. Specifically, these new set of tariffs could mean raised operating costs, as well as retaliatory measures from other countries, which could shrink the markets for many goods. We’re taking a look at what the new tariffs mean for supply chain, and how businesses can protect their interests.
How the groundwork was laid for heightened trade tensions
In 2006, lithium-ion batteries consumed only 20% of the global cobalt supply. Ten years later, that number has more than doubled. It’s expected that market demand for the metal will increase to more than 120,000 tonnes per year by 2020 — 60% of which will account for battery production alone. As a finite but clearly valuable resource locked mostly in countries with difficult-to-track labor standards, cobalt’s supply chain has fallen under intense scrutiny in recent months, and companies are rushing to get their share.
Digital transformation involves the strategic overhaul of business activities, processes, competencies, and models to fully leverage the opportunities made available by new technologies. Two cutting-edge technologies being implemented today are the Internet of Things (IoT) and 3D printing. Now beyond the point of being mere buzzwords, these technologies are actively transforming the landscape of logistics and manufacturing networks across the globe.
They don’t seem too similar, but data centers could benefit from supply chain management.
Last week Facebook revealed that it will be building a new data center — its ninth in the US — in Atlanta, Georgia. The $750 million investment will run completely on renewable energy (most likely solar). It’s not hard to imagine how much power the information of 2.2 billion users might require, and renewable options cut costs in the long-term.
Today's world runs on complex networks of intelligent technologies that enable quick innovation and the efficient movement of goods. But with increasing interconnectedness, companies need to fortify their cybersecurity plans. And given the highly diffuse nature of modern supply chains, the risk of falling victim to a security breach has never been higher.
Until recently consumers were willing to wait as long as they had to, to get their hands on hyped-up products offered by the hottest brands. They had no choice. But the business landscape has changed dramatically in the last decade. Amazon Prime exploded on the scene in 2005. Since then, free and fast shipping has ceased to be a privilege and is now an expectation. More companies are investing in their own immediate fulfilment services to get products to customers faster because they know that brand reputation alone is no longer enough to drive sales.
But it’s not just a matter of up-levelling last-mile logistics. Creating real value for the customer — making products available at the right place and time — depends on being able to view and react to disruptions and variables all across the supply chain, in real time. That’s how today’s brands beat out the competition. But with the current mindset the vast majority of companies are operating their supply chains on, the needs of the customer are sometimes forgotten. We’ve pulled together a few reminders to help businesses keep their customers at the center of their supply chain operations.