Top Logistics Trends for 2014 – Part 2

Top Logistics Trends for 2014 – Part 2

In part one of our series on trends for 2014, we looked at the impact that customer service will have on logistics and two trends that will be at the front of the conversation on meeting customer service requirements. While many companies like to talk about customer service, savvy logistics professionals know that it takes more than talking about customer service to deliver products to customers.  That is why part two will discuss the physical and system requirements for delivering an amazing customer experience.

Most of these trends are ideas that have been covered before, but with an improving economic outlook, many of the projects that these trends address were put on hold. As 2014 starts, many companies are starting to put resources into projects to address these topics.

4. Network Optimization

In part one of this series, we mentioned multi-channel fulfillment and same day deliveries. How do you support those activities in your business? Depending on the service levels your business requires, you could need one facility or another number based on a large number of customer, supplier, and service level variables.

The number of facility your business requires is part of network optimization.  Network optimization can also help manage vendors, customers, and transportation lanes.  As businesses look at meeting increasing customer service demands, they will want to consider a network optimization project in 2014.

In 2013, Blue Horseshoe partnered with the leading network optimization software vendor to develop solutions to a number of network optimization projects. We see this trend continuing in 2014 as more companies see issues with their current supply chain.

5. Inventory Optimization

From a one person craft business to a multi-national corporation, everyone that produces products to sell will have some type of inventory available to create or distribute products. As companies grow, they can add manufacturing facilities, warehouses, and retail locations to make and sell products. With an increasing number of products and locations, companies realize that they have a lot of their working capital tied up in inventory.

Inventory optimization helps companies determine the best type, place, and amount of inventory to hold in order to meet customer demand while maximizing capital efficiency. Ineffective inventory optimization was seen in quite a few retail stores at the end of 2013. As they plan their 2014 sales, they will have to take a hard look at their inventory strategies in order to not repeat the mistakes of 2013.

6. Enterprise Software Upgrades

Having the right inventory at the right place at the right time is one way to improve customer service.  One of the ways that companies can meet that goal is by linking together their company functions into one system that manages corporate processes from purchasing to final delivery to the customer.

Due the last economic downturn, many companies put ERP selections or upgrades on hold. That has left many companies utilizing systems that were installed in the 1990’s or earlier that are no longer supported by their vendors.

To overcome the challenges of dated systems, many companies are looking to select or upgrade ERP systems in 2014. With an increase in systems project budgets, companies need to select the right partner for their project to ensure success.

7. Warehouse Management System Improvements

As the WMS software space continued to consolidate in 2013, software vendors continue to sunset their legacy acquisitions. That has left many companies with functional but unsupported WMS systems to wonder what they are supposed to do with an unsupported system.

We believe the 2014 will be an important year for WMS systems providers. From Microsoft rolling out a new version of AX with Blue Horseshoe designed warehousing and transportation modules to other vendors upgrading existing platforms, it leaves a very confusing picture of what next steps companies should take. With the right partners, companies can determine their WMS strategy in 2014 and select the right WMS for their business or find a bolt on solution that will improve an existing legacy system.

As we conclude part two of this series and look toward part three, we start to think about additional technologies and issues that will drive the logistics field in 2014. With major announcements from Google, Microsoft, Amazon and others at the close of 2013, it set the stage for a 2014 of major advances in technology being unveiled and the workforce to support them. Stay tuned for the next part in our series.


See Also:
Top Logistics Trends for 2014 – Part 1
Top Logistics Trends for 2014 – Part 3

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