At the end of March 2017, market leading companies gathered together in London for the two day Logistics and Supply Chain Conference. A number of key speakers from companies, such as Clarks, GSK, Amazon and SIG, spoke about challenges they face within logistics and supply chain and how to overcome them. Just as in recent years, the event highlighted innovative new approaches and upcoming technologies.
Alistair Marshall, Progressive’s Business Manager, ran a survey at the exhibition, consisting of three multiple choice questions. The aim was to discover technologies that companies were looking to invest in, market trends they believed to be most important to their company and where they felt the biggest skills gaps were in their organisation.
The importance of forecasting and replenishment
34.8% of those surveyed are looking to invest in forecasting and replenishment. As Alistair explains, “businesses need to identify where their shortfalls are going to be and when they’re going to need stock”. Black Friday is a prime example of when companies need to identify the amount of stock needed, as well as the number of people required to pick all of the orders. A large logistics company mentioned at the event that, for Black Friday alone, they would need up to 800 staff members to fulfil the number of orders.
Important and upcoming market trends
52.2% of survey respondents listed reverse logistics as being of “prime importance to their company”. Reverse logistics facilitates returns, which is an area many companies are looking to improve on and invest in. Numerous distribution centres are now fully automated and, due to the influx in e-commerce, many companies experience a 40-50% increase in returns. With consumers now buying multiple products online and sending the majority back, this can mean returns aren’t processed fast enough to get products back into stock. As a result, the money invested in products is lost.
A market leading logistics company have created a reverse logistics system to help companies running fully automated warehouses track stock. These new approaches and technologies help to create significant organisational and process improvements. The conference showcased these innovative approaches and shared the cutting edge research that underpins them. A digital move into re-selling through online sites such as eBay to recoup the capital was suggested at the event – something that’s proven successful for large retailer Argos. Other companies also suggested donating products to charity or recycling the materials.
Understanding skill gaps to improve processes
Survey respondents mentioned that, where they’ve got skills gaps, they are in process improvement and change. Another skill gap which was branded ‘hot topic’ was in Sales and Operations Planning (S&OP). A number of speakers at the event shared their knowledge of how important S&OP is, and how process improvement in particular is very relevant to S&OP.
Change and improving processes is significant, which is why companies should have a transformation team. Optimising processes can relate to many factors but more often than not relates to increasing profits. The main focus for companies is to get materials and products cheaper and to source a more suitable or cost efficient supply. This is where S&OP comes in to achieve focus, alignment and synchronisation among all functions of the company, which currently is a big skills gap.
Something for everyone
Speaking of the event, Alistair said “it was successful because we were able to talk to people about the challenges they’re facing, and have open conversations about how businesses might overcome upcoming challenges in the logistics and supply chain space.”
Are you actively anticipating market trends and empowering your operations to fill skills gaps? This is where we can help. Whether you’re a business looking for an experienced professional, or a professional looking to demonstrate your skillset within an exciting new role, we have plenty of opportunities for you. Contact us today, to speak with one of our trained consultants about what doors we can open for you.