Posted February 13, 2020

Supply Chain & Logistics: 20 Years of Change

Supply Chain & Logistics: 20 Years of Change
By Grace Tino

The last 20 years have been ones of rapid growth. Technology, changing political and economic landscapes, and increasing global connectivity in general has changed how companies look at their products and consumers. The logistics and supply chain industry has continuously adapted to the changes of these past two tumultuous decades. While the industry is extremely vast with multiple niches and specialties, there are quite a few general trends that have been powerfully influential on its many facets.

Technology truly has been a root of change over the last two decades. We have seen technological advancement in the world in many ways that has also been reflected in the industry itself. Some of these technological changes include the Internet, mobile devices, and software specific to the industry. A notable technological development over the last two decades that has become essential to supply chain operations is ERP systems. Supply chain managers can now analyze the big picture and plan more efficiently from start to finish with an integrated approach. A lot of this is also owed to big data analysis, another result of technological advancement and increased data capacity, that supply chain and logistics companies can leverage for more efficient performance and decision-making.

Technological advancements aren't just limited to the software available to companies, but to the world as well- and this is reflected in the rising e-commerce demands. The rise of e-commerce as a staple in the supply chain and logistics space can be traced all the way back to the early 2000s. In fact, e-commerce spending had grown from 3.8% to 10.2% of all retail spending in America between 2009 and 2019. E-commerce demands have disrupted many traditional supply chain and logistics models, especially with direct-to-consumer models. Not to mention, this boom in e-commerce sales has made room for new 3PL companies to keep up with faster shipping and returns. A notable gamechanger in this competitive arena is Amazon, who has set a new standard in 3PL logistics.

The supply chain and logistics industry has undergone rapid globalization alongside the world economy over the last two decades. One notable factor in globalization is the huge spark of manufacturing in countries such as China and Japan, which has thus led to greater importing and exporting between countries. The United States, along with other previous manufacturing hubs, had to investigate other markets due to the slowing of their own economies; the Asian market provided the right production hubs that sparked innovation in worldwide trade and international supply chain strategies.

Risk Management has taken the forefront in good SCM. The increasing need for risk management in logistics and supply chain certainly ties in with the industry's rapid globalization. It has become vital for successful companies in this area to cultivate strong strategies and always plan for uncertainties because the scale of global supply chain opens them to many more risks. Some of these uncertainties supply chain and logistics companies must take into consideration are natural disasters, shifting customs and tariffs, or political instability.

Another shift seen in the last several years, and one the industry can expect a lot more pressure from in the years to come, is the growing concern of sustainability. The world itself has grown more concerned with the impact of the human population and the environment. Supply chain itself directly connects to these concerns; from consumers to governing bodies, there is an increased call for sustainable supply chain strategies that take environmental impact and ethics into mind.

If there's anything we can take away from the last two decades, it's that the growth of the supply chain and logistics industry isn't slowing down. In fact, it's growing faster than ever, offering new and exciting opportunities every year. As this dynamic industry continues to evolve, continues to grow with it, remaining the leading job board in its niche. We look forward to another exciting 20 years (and more!) of rapid innovation and change!