Any time the end of one year approaches and another is about to begin, it's important to consider where your industry has been and where it's going. There are perhaps no sectors undergoing as much radical change today as those connected to the supply chain, and those changes are expected to keep coming fast and furious throughout 2020 and beyond.

Perhaps the biggest is consumers' preferences around shipping continue to evolve, as major companies like Amazon have effectively normalized the idea of free two-, one- and even same-day shipping, according to Supply Chain Digital. That means more consumers might be interested in buying directly from manufacturers and suppliers, cutting out third-party retailers so they can get their orders even more quickly.

Moreover, delivery turnarounds could soon become the most important way consumers make online buying decisions, at least on a similar level to price itself, the report said. Companies that are not responsive to these wants or needs may find themselves getting left behind as supply chains take the next step.

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Investing in technology
To help enable faster and more accurate shipping methods, many companies may need to digitize more of their processes both internally and externally, according to Supply & Demand Chain Executive. That means putting money toward the kinds of smart tracking devices that help you keep better tabs on items as they move into, through and back out of your warehouses, as well as connecting with your many different supply chain partners to make sure they're doing the same.

This takes a major investment in terms of money and time, but in the end, the benefits should become clear enough if the processes are implemented properly, the report said. As more companies get their efforts into the cloud, it will make for a more efficient supply chain overall.

Getting it right
Of course, all these issues mean companies shouldn't be pursuing technology or change purely for the sake of doing so, and as a result it's important to carefully evaluate next steps now, before the new year even starts, according to Material Handling and Logistics. That way, you can hit the ground running with planning and deployment and will have a little extra runway to meet your goals for company-wide evolution and ensure you're still fully engaged with the modern supply chain.

Here, too, it will be valuable to collaborate with your partners so you all know what your plans are and can get on the same page when it comes to implementation, the report said. As a result, all changes you make are more effective, and there are no surprises as to what certain partners will do at any point in the year.

Making these kinds of conversations and decisions an ongoing collaborative process is perhaps the best thing supply chain businesses can do to ensure they're keeping up with what the industry has coming for 2020 and beyond.
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