5 Supply Chain Best Practices Predictions for 2024

Business leader uses a crystal ball to decide which supply chain best practices needed for 2024.

Order and shipment volumes slowed significantly since the record levels of 2020 and 2021, and excess carrier capacity abounds as we close out 2023. The economy improved somewhat, but it isn’t roaring to life. Inflation continues to worry consumers. Heading into 2024, adopting forward-looking supply chain best practices prepares your organization for the next turn in a volatile environment.

Innovative transportation management strategies will be required to plot out the year’s volume and carrier commitments in a cost-effective way. Depressed spot and contract rates today don’t excuse you from following the transportation budget when the pendulum swings tomorrow. Implementing a top-flight transportation management system (TMS) is a great way to hedge against risk while increasing transportation efficiency and maintaining customer SLAs.

Here are 5 predictions for supply chain best practices that will improve your ability to operate effectively and efficiently in 2024.

1. Supply Chain Best Practices Prediction: Increased Demand for Real-Time Data & Analytics

Considering the complexity of global supply chains and the potential for disruptive events, it’s surprising we’re still discussing the need for real-time data going into 2024. Yet the majority of companies are laggards in this regard.

For starters, many organizations don’t view their chief supply chain officer – assuming they have one – as a strategic business partner. According to Gartner, only 47% of organizations surveyed earlier this year held this view “despite the focus on supply chain during the pandemic.”

In logistics and transportation, best-of-breed TMS systems embedded the advanced analytics and real-time visibility needed to overcome this gap and improve decision-making intelligence. These technology solutions will help organizations move beyond data management to data stewardship. That means your business collects, views, applies, maintains, and follows through on your supply chain data, all while maintaining security and provenance.

2. Supply Chain Best Practices Prediction: Integration of Advanced Technologies (AI, IoT)

Several interrelated technologies are coming together to solve supply chain issues. Artificial intelligence (AI) is aided by machine learning (ML), making systems smarter through a continuous learning process. The Internet of Things (IoT) taps sensors and tags that constantly feed inventory data (pallet, case, even item level) into AI and ML for tracking, management, and analysis.

These advanced capabilities will increasingly be leveraged to address the “planning/execution gap” in supply chain management and improve “decision intelligence,” according to Supply & Demand Executive.

The effective use of AI for inventory management can reduce carrying costs by up to 20% and decrease stockouts by 50%, according to McKinsey & Company. These solutions also make demand forecasting more accurate, enabling companies to anticipate trends, fluctuations, and changes in customer preferences.

Overall, integrating artificial intelligence, machine learning, and IoT in supply chain management will enhance decision-making and operational control. And a TMS that incorporates AI and ML capabilities provides continuous analysis of all factors (shipments, loads, orders, carriers and capacity, inventory positions, SLAs, etc.) to improve performance and profitability.

3. Supply Chain Best Practices Prediction: Greater Focus on Efficiency, Sustainability & Resiliency

While these might appear to be three unrelated topics, supply chain sustainability – an undeniable corporate and government mandate – cannot be achieved without greater efficiency. An inefficient network rarely stands resilient during macroeconomic shocks and other disruptors.

The need for greater supply chain resilience has become a federal priority in the wake of the pandemic disruptions. In late November, the Biden administration held the first meeting of the cross-agency Council on Supply Chain Resilience, as well as a multi-pronged effort including the creation of risk assessment tools and public-private data sharing. The Department of Commerce hosts a Supply Chain Data and Analytics Summit in 2024, with plans to invite expert input into supply chain risk assessment models and tools.

There are several ways that leading organizations will work to improve supply chain efficiency in 2024. As noted above, advanced technology is a primary way to achieve efficient operations across your network. Algorithms trained to perform pattern analysis can help optimize routes and redesign inventory placement and network layout, saving time and money.

Resiliency, meanwhile, can be achieved by developing a unified commerce framework and taking a more collaborative approach with sales and operations teams, according to a Harvard Business Review analysis. Multimodal optimization is another solution that more shippers will use to drive greater efficiency while pursuing sustainability goals.

4. Supply Chain Best Practices Prediction: Enhanced Collaboration & Orchestration

Supply chain networks have steadily evolved toward greater collaboration, driven by technological advancements and a shift in industry practices. In 2024, several factors will contribute to more collaborative networks, including:
  • Increased digitalization and connectivity: Advanced technologies (blockchain, IoT, AI, cloud computing) enable real-time data sharing, visibility, and improved communication among stakeholders.
  • Supply chain orchestration platforms: These sophisticated platforms allow partners to collaborate seamlessly, share data, and coordinate activities.
  • Supplier collaboration: Collaboration occurs earlier in product design, development, and planning to enhance efficiency, reduce costs, and improve quality.
  • Data sharing and analytics: Analytical tools enable better forecasting, inventory optimization, and decision-making, improving performance and efficiency.

In the world of transportation management technology, advanced architecture opens the door to greater visibility for all stakeholders, enabling greater collaboration among carriers, shippers, and suppliers.

5. Supply Chain Best Practices Prediction: Emphasis on Flexibility and Scalability

Volatile market conditions require companies to emphasize supply chain flexibility and scalability more – especially heading into a presidential election cycle. Labor unrest and a shortage of workers in operational roles underpin reasons for incorporating flexibility and scalability as central factors in supply chain management.

One way companies address this is by implementing a cloud-based, composable architecture, a growing supply chain best practice that empowers a best-of-breed approach to software as a service. A composable framework enables rapid reaction to changing market conditions, such as new competitors, shifting demographics, and demand spikes.

A cloud-based, multi-tenant TMS platform provides flexibility and scalability in logistics and transportation. Significant changes can be made, such as adding new business units, without disrupting ongoing operations.

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Prepare for The Pace of Change to Accelerate

In supply chain management, the New Year will look a lot like 2023, only more so. The freight market may (or may not rebound); we may (or may not) see another contagion in China impacting exports and commerce worldwide; and the business world will hold its collective breath to see how the wind blows from Washington.

Advanced transportation management systems and solutions from MercuryGate, covering everything from sourcing through final mile delivery, are designed to keep your operations agile and responsive, even as challenging conditions arise. Request a demo with MercuryGate​​ today.

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