Supply-Chain Productivity: The Missing Link

Updated: Dec 16, 2021

As other industries move forward and keep on trend with emerging technologies, supply chains have been acknowledged as lagging behind. It has been pointed out that the distribution Industry’s close counterparts; the retailers, have consistently progressed alongside novel technologies and pursued more sustainable ways of working.

This may be down to the Retail Industry’s direct contact with the public and consumers, but regardless, it is important that technologies are introduced and leveraged by all links in the supply chain if we want to reduce losses and improve efficiency across the board.

The FWD has touched on this in previous research, suggesting that with the changes to how Distributors operate, such as the ever-increasing power of e-commerce or wholesale by-pass;

“It is essential that wholesalers embrace digital transformation and fully utilise the new opportunities that e-commerce presents.” -Frank Shaw, Foresight Director, Centre for Future Studies

Relying on manual processes, has for decades now, been a hindrance to businesses, and given the close links throughout the supply chain, if one link has slowed progress, the entire supply chain cannot fully optimise its workflow. Therefore, each business should look internally for ways it can remove and replace ineffective processes.

The key points contributing to major losses are inventory and warehouse management, as well as unclear logistics that are largely caused by a lack of visibility.

The Technological Delay


Above shows statistics for the processes, supply chains rely on to supply goods, as well as the top areas of concern on a global level.

As you can see, one of the key points that must be confronted is the lack of visibility supply chain businesses have - A lack of visibility means businesses do not have access to the data they need to see the areas they need to improve and the primary points of lost profits. Without being able to clearly see where a business is performing poorly, there is little opportunity to look for how to improve.

Another obstacle is the cost of logistics and fuel - Outsourcing logistics solutions easily put pressure on budgets, particularly smaller businesses operating more locally.

Another key concern is the lag behind digitisation - There is a strong agreement that supply chains require the automation of slowed manual processes, particularly those concerned with visibility and analytics.