Distribution is due for some key changes in 2014, thanks to more technology, increased globalization, and some long overdue innovations that are finally being put into place.
Whether you run an Internet business out of your home or are part of a company that ships through major warehouses, here are some of the big ideas you’ll be likely to hear about and even encounter over the course of the coming year.
1. New counterfeiting measures
Counterfeiting has become a serious problem for manufacturers in the global market, especially when it comes to electronics and other serious brands. For now, there isn’t much that companies can do about that, but expect significant changes in the coming year.
Industry associations will work on new standards, and governments will come under new pressure (we’re looking at you, China and India) to stop counterfeiters. New tracking technologies will also help reduce the number of fakes on the market.
2. More immediate information for customers
Today the supply market is moving more and more toward the buyer. Customers around the world can look up plenty of details on products, costs, features, shipping, and customer service; then make their decisions without once talking to a company representative.
This puts a lot of pressure on distributors to make information available online and on all sorts of devices if they haven’t already. The publication of information on demand will only continue to grow.
3. Simpler, better production tracking
Production tracking has grown from a handy gimmick to a key part of running a manufacturing resource planning system. 2014 will be the year when such electronic, software-based tracking becomes easy for even small distributors to use.
Shipping, inventory, and warehouse management systems will all start looking very similar or become easier to connect. Interfaces will grow less complex, and vendor outsourcing will rise, too.
4. More segmentation
Distribution, especially on a global scale, is growing even more diverse. This client needs lots of customization. That region wants very quick delivery.
This country is very concerned about quality controls. Over there, environmental regulations are tough to meet. Distributors will respond with more segmentation, create different silos to meet different needs, and launch new projects to update their products and services as needed.
5. Big data for little risk
Big data has a place in supply-oriented industries, but it has not grown into its own yet. Large advances will occur this year to bring big data into the supply world as a way to manage risk, study best practices, and arrange for better inventory management.