Time-sensitive deliveries, lean inventories, and shorter product lifecycles consistently place greater demands on the supply chain. With supply chain technology advancements, shippers have increased expectations of what logistics providers can accomplish, and the proper alignment of those expectations is the key to guaranteeing success between both parties.
Shippers and third-party logistics providers (3PLs) are becoming more integrated thanks to solutions that make data more accessible, improving the ability to make real-time decisions that benefit both parties and creating more meaningful partnerships. Most prominently, automation and blockchain technologies are gaining mindshare among shippers and 3PL providers to drive revenue and advance digitization initiatives, according to the 2018 Third-Party Logistics Study by Infosys Consulting, Penske Logistics, Korn Ferry and Penn State University.
In today’s marketplace, customers of all types are better informed and expectations are increasingly set higher. The growth of e-commerce, increased consumer demands and the speed at which new technologies enter the market makes the supply chain more relevant. This comes as demand patterns are shifting and new competitors are entering the marketplace, challenging established business models.
The functioning of today’s supply chains relies significantly on the abilities of all involved parties to have access to vast amounts of data in near real-time or, increasingly, real-time. As a result, shippers and 3PLs are moving away from transactional relationships and toward meaningful partnerships. There are many risks when products are moved along any supply chain, and with an increased desire for greater visibility, blockchain, automation and digitization technologies are becoming more desirable.
“Supply chain used to be a function. Now it is a value-add, and it is fundamental to your customer’s experience,” said Kim Breland, director of finance, supply chain operations for Sprouts Farmers Market, a supermarket chain based in Phoenix. “It has gone from a box hitting a location to delivering an outcome.” Breland was among several logistics executives who took part in the study’s workshop held at Google headquarters in Mountain View, California.