Logistics, supply chain and delivery service for e-commerce, online shopping concept : Boxes, shopping cart, fork-lift truck, delivery van on a laptop computer, depicts using internet to order goods

Contributed by AFFLINK.

Due to the pandemic, most prognosticators were uncertain what trends we might see in 2021 regarding supply chains. COVID was still raging and it significantly impacted many industries, including supply chains.  

But now, as we inch past the pandemic, we are starting to see specific supply chain trends evolving. Gretchen Friedrich, with AFFLINK, says, “Some trends appear to be long lasting. They will [likely] become core to supply chain management in the future.”

Against this backdrop, Friedrich offers AFFLINK’s Six Supply Chain Trends for the rest of 2021:

Traditionally, distributors have not planned for major unforeseen events. Now, after COVID, manufacturers and distributors must become much more agile, willing, and able to make changes quickly so that they can respond to disruptions promptly.

Green logistics is here to stay. It benefits the environment and proves to be a cost-savings while also promoting goodwill and brand loyalty. 

“Millennials look for companies that promote sustainability, and there are even studies suggesting sustainability-focused brands grow faster than those that are not,” says Friedrich.

Blockchain technology is evolving, it is helping manufacturers and distributors deliver products faster, eliminate waste and fraud. Further, it is cost-effective and transparent. Supply chain managers find they can detect issues quickly using blockchain technology. This can be a significant cost saving and can improve customer satisfaction tremendously.

Internet of Things
“IoT is just starting to play a big role in distribution,” says Friedrich. It is being used in manufacturing and distribution to monitor products during shipment, send alerts when equipment needs maintenance, and track the speed, safety, and fuel efficiency of trucks. 

Machine Learning
Related to IoT is Machine Learning. This refers to the ability of machines to read, identify, and replicate procedures and patterns. It eliminates the need for employees to perform repetitive tasks, performing them faster with fewer errors.

With Blockchain, IoT, and Machine Learning, it would appear the role of the individual may be ending.

“We see just the opposite happening," says Friedrich. "Distributors proved themselves during the pandemic. End-customers relied on them more than ever before. We see this continuing.”