Why Supply Chains Are Finally Getting the Attention They Deserve

Logistics hub with shipping containers and a truck, and a plane in the background

Just a few years back, it was unlikely that the average consumer knew very much about the supply chain that got their favorite products onto store shelves. Supply chain management was relegated to the back of the building, and the field was generally paid scant attention outside of specialized industrial spheres. But that’s all beginning to change.

Today’s supply chains and logistics are now commanding the attention of both consumers and industry professionals, and it’s no wonder: According to Symphony RetailAI’s “Supply Chain Management 2018: In Service of the Customer” report, four out of five retailers say that the supply chain positively impacts their business.

Supply chains are now being seen as a key driver of growth, which means many companies are bringing insights from the supply chain team into the front office. For example, in September Levi Strauss announced the restructuring of their C-Suite, with Liz O’Neill, former chief supply chain officer, becoming president and executive VP of the company’s new Product, Innovation, and Supply Chain organization.

Why the Supply Chain Is Becoming More Visible

There are several reasons supply chains are stepping into the spotlight now. For example:

  • Integration of technology — Over the last decade, tech has been advancing rapidly in the supply chain sphere, with more and more companies making use of blockchain, artificial intelligence (AI), and the Internet of Things (IoT) to drive enhanced supply chain efficiency and transparency — and, in turn, bringing about improved customer service. The use of such high-tech tools are also making the supply chain more interesting and attractive to the younger generations, whether it’s millennial consumers researching the origins of their food products or young job seekers looking to break into this dynamic, newly tech-heavy field.
  • Shifting consumer expectations — Today’s consumers expect product to be where they want it, when they want it, and that would be impossible without the evolution of the supply chain sphere. Purchasers are also seeking out more sustainable products, which require verifiable proof of how they are made and how they move through the supply chain. People care where their stuff comes from, and the tech-savvy supply chain can provide them with that information.
  • Disruptive business trends — The status quo has been seriously shaken up in the past few years, as mass customization and the rise of the service economy continue to alter the industrial landscape. The supply chain plays a huge role in making such changes the new reality, allowing companies to get products across the country and across the globe with the speed and efficiency consumers expect.

Investors See Room for Improvement in the Supply Chain

The supply chain industry has also seen a lot of interest from venture capitalists, simply because there’s a lot of room for improvement. Many supply chains are still using outdated technology and tools, and the pressure of today’s demand is bound to push companies to upgrade. The leaps and bounds being made in various tech developments are also driving investments.

Work to Be Done in Attracting People to Supply Chain Careers

Despite the fact that supply chains are making the news more and more frequently, the careers in this field still aren’t drawing as much attention as needed. Many companies are having a difficult time filling skilled supply chain positions. Offering training and apprenticeship opportunities and highlighting the tech-savvy nature of today’s supply chains may help in drawing more young people into the field.

Looking Ahead

Supply chain and logistics are evolving rapidly, and show no signs of slowing in the near future. The tech innovations and advancements just keep coming, and consumer demand continues to drive the next innovations and trends.

In recognizing the supply chain as a critical factor in improving overall efficiency and boosting the bottom line, companies can set themselves up for continued success.

Image Credit: Aun Photographer / Shutterstock.com

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