Artificial intelligence, self-driving cars, and robots were once thought to be fantasy. These technological advancements are becoming a reality, and the logistics sector is changing as a result of them.Technology continues to have a significant role in supply chain efficiency as on-demand logistics grows (due to high standards and expectations around accurate, fast, and reliable delivery).Find out what new supply chain technology advances are allowing online companies to operate more efficiently and help them expand.
5 supply chain technology trends to look out for
What was once considered impossible is now becoming a reality, from self-driving trucks to artificial intelligence (AI), as technology and automation have been linked with the supply chain for a long time.
Online businesses may use a combination of technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, and predictive analytics to automate warehouse operations, improve delivery times, easily manage inventory, optimize third-party communication, and create new customer experiences that increase satisfaction and sales.
The top five supply chain technology trends that are still evolving are as follows.
1. Demand forecasting
According to the National Retail Federation, revolutionary technology enables more accurate demand forecasting and reduced supply chain mistakes by 30% to 50%. It’s all too easy to squander sales owing to faulty inventory data, which can lead to understocking and overstocking issues that result in lost income.
All of these methods have their flaws and drawbacks. For example, historical data might be misinterpreted as a sample or set of data values. This kind of analysis might produce the conclusion that two groups of people are comparable. Artificial intelligence takes demand forecasting to the next level by combining data from various internal and external sources, such as demographics, weather, online reviews, and even social media (e.g., brand mentions), to improve real-time information.
Machine learning can also help improve forecasting by detecting trends from similar products and utilizing that data to generate better predictions for new goods that lack historical data.
2. Artificial intelligence (AI)
With AI, supply chains are improving and making waves. Here are some numbers to consider:
- By the end of 2021, at least half of worldwide logistics networks will employ AI to improve operational efficiency.
- AI’s potential impact on the supply chain is expected to be between $1.2 trillion and $2 trillion in manufacturing and logistics planning.
- The transport and logistics sector will gain 89 percent more value over time as a result of AI adoption.
Artificial intelligence has two types of applications in ecommerce supply chains: category and product recommendations.
- Augmentation: AI that helps people with daily activities.
- Automation: AI that can operate without human assistance.
AI-enabled solutions in the supply chain are made up of a variety of technology choices that aid businesses in interpreting complicated data and improving human performance by taking on time-consuming, routine activities.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) allows for more visibility and integration across networks, allowing businesses to grow their supply chain while keeping things simple. It works by employing algorithms to discover patterns, trends, and gaps in a whole supply chain (which is also important for accurate prediction).
After adopting AI into their supply chains, 61% of executives reported reduced costs and 53 percent claimed higher sales..
3. Self-driving trucks
Big investments are being made in the development of self-driving trucks (which is still in beta) in order to improve last-mile delivery.
However, despite the fact that huge businesses have invested millions of dollars in autonomous vehicle startups, there is still a long way to go before self-driving technology may be used across the industry.
We will witness a lot of progress in the near future as there is increasing concern about driver scarcity and sustainability issues, which are important driving forces behind significant investment in autonomous transportation.
4. Warehouse robotics
Robotics have been around for a while, but they’re becoming increasingly popular in the ecommerce supply chain. Indeed, the first robots were designed to be used in manufacture, with the first patents filed in 1954 and 1961. George Devol and his firm Unimation created the first industrial robot in 1956, which was patented by them.
In 1962, General Motors built the first robot in their New Jersey plant. For a long time, robots were only used in industrial manufacturing since they were dangerous for people to be near when they were operating. However, this has changed, and major supply chains have already implemented robotics to improve speed and accuracy in retail fulfillment.
Pick orders may account for 50% or more of your warehouse labor costs, leaving less time for staff to focus on new procedures and improvements.
More logistics experts and employees can focus on more complex processes, such as packaging innovation, procedures, and more by using robotics to reduce labor and time spent on fulfillment (e.g., walking from one side of a fulfillment center to the other).
5. Supply chain security
Supply chain security is an evergreen issue, as ecommerce global sales are predicted to reach $4.89 trillion by the end of the year. Cyberattacks on wide supply chains are a popular choice owing to their interconnectedness and data sharing.
Modern security solutions provide protection and reduce risk. Encryption, tokenization, on-demand access, and automated notifications are all modern-day supply chain security measures that should be employed.
Cyberattacks can result in significant security breaches throughout the supply chain, putting client data at risk.
How advancements in supply chain tech are improving logistics
Advancements in supply chain technology are intended to enhance supply chain resilience, so as the business expands and higher criteria are achieved, ecommerce companies can readily adapt to modifications.
Here are some examples of how supply chain technology has already altered logistics processes.
Forecasting future demand
Traditional logistics has long been plagued by the difficulty of accurately predicting demand. Supply chains previously lacked knowledge across operations due to a disconnect between upstream and downstream activities. This resulted in significant inventory mismatches, making it difficult to ensure that sufficient stock was available to meet demand and avoid stockouts.
It’s now feasible to connect all sales channels and distribution centers together. This gives a comprehensive view of inventory movements and statistics across a supply chain network, allowing you to make better decisions about not just how much inventory to reorder and when, but also where to store goods based on demand and which marketing methods to use based on results.
In the context of on-demand and supply chain logistics, speed and efficiency are critical. Supply chain management systems allow for faster dispatch expectations as a result of technological advancements in AI, robotics, and other automation tools.
Logistics experts may use technology to automate large sections of the supply chain and devote time to increasing coverage, simplifying procedures, and determining how to optimize logistics in order to ensure that items arrive where they need to be in the most cost-effective manner feasible.
Higher order accuracy rates
With no technological advancements, maintaining a higher order accuracy (between 95-98%) while processing a large number of orders is difficult.
Technology in the supply chain is continuously reducing time-consuming, error-prone activities that are prone to human error. Warehouse robots, for example, are intended to reduce errors by picking, packing, and sorting orders according with precise information.
It also gives company owners with the knowledge they need to enhance order accuracy. ShipBob is an e-commerce fulfillment firm that provides access to a variety of distribution statistics, as well as other metrics that can help merchants measure performance quickly.
Real-time monitoring in supply chain
Ecommerce supply chains are constantly changing, and inventory levels and demand fluctuations frequently (and sometimes suddenly).
Real-time monitoring gives business owners and their staff the ability to keep track of operations with a layer of transparency on top of day-to-day involvement.
When it comes to keeping track of stock, real-time monitoring is also critical. Real-time inventory data gives an accurate and transparent view of inventory levels at any one moment in time. It also provides key insights into demand, as well as SKU and channel performance going back several months or years.
While many options and methods are available to optimize a shipping strategy to save money while still satisfying customer requirements, achieving this is difficult.
Automated shipping solutions take the complicated out of delivering by putting consumer orders that must be delivered in a queue and automating some of the laborious activities. The complexity of shipping technology may range from as simple as using robots to as complex as adding a software or infrastructure layer.
Many 3PLs nowadays provide automated delivery options. For example, ShipBob collects transit times, cart values, shipping methods, and e-commerce delivery locations to assist you save money and experiment with various shipping pricing strategies.