• Supply Chain

7 Top Supply Chain Trends to Monitor in 2019

Written by Elias Schoelmann
December 20, 2018

According to data from Statista Research, by the year 2045 there will be over eight trillion ton-miles of freight moved within the United States alone. The logistics and transportation industry is transforming at a rapid rate, with factors like e-commerce shopping fueling the fire. It’s never been more important for businesses to have effective supply chain processes.

Those with optimized supply chain and logistics plans can develop a significant advantage over their competitors. Maintaining an understanding of how supply chains are changing is essential for those wanting to increase their competitive edge.

If you want help understanding how the industry is changing, following are seven top supply chain trends to monitor in 2019:

1. Connected Supply Chains

In 2019, global supply chains will become more connected than ever thanks to technologies like blockchain, cloud-based SaaS software platforms, and ride-sharing logistics.

With the increasing use of technologies like blockchain and cloud-based software, watch for the expanded use of connected supply chains. Instead of each business’ vertical having its own supply chain, companies will start to connect their logistics efforts to reduce costs and increase performance.

READ MORE: What is blockchain and what does it mean for the supply chain? »

2. Crowd-Sourced Logistics

Thanks to innovation in the crowd-sourcing and ride-sharing sectors, more companies are starting to see the benefits of using crowdsourced delivery drivers for their shipment needs. With the ability to instantly connect with on-demand delivery personnel via a mobile application, savvy business owners are able to reduce their shipping costs by cutting out expensive couriers.

Watch for more advancements in this sector as decentralization, smart contracts, and blockchain technology are leveraged to shift deliveries from couriers to crowdsourced delivery personnel.

3. Layered Services

As courier companies find it increasingly challenging to compete, expect to see a rise in layered service options from couriers. Whether you’re shipping by air, rail, or truck, a growing number of couriers will be interested in adding multiple options to your logistics processes. Often billed as “value-add services,” these layered services allow courier companies to increase revenues and customer satisfaction rates and stay at the front of supply chain trends.

4. Scooter Deliveries

In cities where street scooters are allowed, there is likely to be increased usage of scooters as a delivery option. Companies wanting to optimize their supply chain for speed and efficiency will be able to contact an on-demand scooter service to deliver their packages. While some cities like San Francisco have clamped down on scooters on city streets, others are welcoming this innovative form of transportation.

5. Shared Warehouses

Warehouse space can be expensive for smaller companies. In 2019 expect to see more companies using shared warehouses to manufacture, store, and ship their products. Just as the collaborative economy is influencing ride-sharing and workplaces, so too will collaboration come to the warehouse space.

6. Robotic Automation

Robotic automation is coming to your supply chain. Thanks to machine learning and artificial intelligence, it has never been easier for companies to integrate robotic automation into their warehouses and production facilities. With major corporations like Amazon leading the way, the logistics sector is seeing significant disruption thanks to automation and product processing.

READ MORE: Warehouse automation »

7. Smart Contracts

There is growing interest in smart contracts and blockchain technology for the logistics and transportation industries. Watch for breakout blockchain companies to grow in popularity as more businesses investigate the possibility of integrating smart contracts into their overall supply chain. Trust, transparency, track and traceability, and proof-of-performance are just a handful of the reasons companies will start to move to blockchain-enabled shipping.

These are just seven of the many hot supply chain trends to monitor in 2019. With the supply chain industry evolving at such a rapid rate, it’s essential for forward-thinking businesses to keep a close watch on new and emerging changes. The old adage of “snooze, you lose” definitely applies to advancements in the warehousing and logistics sector. Staying on top of trends like those listed above can help equip you to stay ahead of your competitors.

While these trends are attracting much public attention, some tried-and-true technologies like mobile data collection with barcoding are still proven to solve many SCM problems.