How to mitigate risks, drive modernization, and excel through market turbulence in the year ahead
As companies contend with rising interest rates, economic uncertainty, and geopolitical tensions, supply chain leaders are approaching 2024 with extreme caution. As a result, the coming year will be defined by heightened risks, forced modernization, and a renewed focus on efficiency and cost management across all industries.
Based on conversations with global supply chain leaders, experts at FourKites have these predictions for the year ahead:
Two words will define the year ahead: extreme caution. That’s what I’m hearing as I talk to supply chain leaders at Fortune 500 companies around the world — along with belt-tightening, profitability and cash management.
Softness in the freight market will continue for far longer than usual, likely throughout all of 2024, due to persistent, higher interest rates.
Founder and CEO
Security-related risks will exacerbate any new disruptions in 2024. Major East-West trade lanes have both existing and potential risks — for example, the draft restrictions being imposed on the Panama Canal transits and the geopolitical and piracy risks in the areas surrounding the Suez Canal. We anticipate that security concerns due to geopolitical instability and piracy will result in the extension or further introduction of security-related surcharges. Potential black swan events could therefore have a compounding effect due to the already precarious and delicate nature of current ocean shipping and supply chain conditions.
Head of International Solutions
Next year we’ll see faster and better integration of various types of data, allowing companies to plug their logistics data directly into their overall supply chain management. As a result, we can expect to see measurable improvements in AI-enabled forecasting around specific variables, such as shifts in inventory or dwell times. Companies should also be able to better predict savings from logistical adjustments – like changes in drivers’ schedules and routes, for example – and use that to determine optimal pricing that’s as close to the market price as possible.
Chief Technology Officer
Manufacturers will get lean again. The highest interest rates in decades mean that leaders can no longer afford to over-order as a hedge to keep manufacturing lines running. Similarly, product portfolios will be continuously assessed relative to demand and SKUs will be rationalized to optimize inventory carrying costs. Efficiently and effectively managing inventory will require a new degree of agility within the manufacturing supply chain to not only detect, for instance, short-filled orders but also to identify the options that are immediately available to keep needed inventory flowing.
VP of Industry Strategy, Manufacturing
Food and beverage companies will race to modernize. January 20, 2026, looms as a critical date for several commodities to be in compliance with the Traceability Records for Certain Foods. This is forcing modernization, process updates and partner collaboration for all commodities included.
VP & GM of Network Collaboration
Some retailers will shy away from placing big bets, and they will fall behind. While few companies have the scale and infrastructure of Walmart, retailers should still pay close attention to how the company is reengineering its supply chain to fulfill customer needs with a more intelligent and connected omnichannel network, enabled by greater use of data, intelligent software, and automation. Standing pat is not an option as new-and-improved consumer shopping experiences will quickly emerge.
VP of Industry Strategy, Retail
While economic stability may remain elusive, opportunities exist for companies placing strategic bets — whether by enhancing traceability in food and beverage, revamping omnichannel networks in retail, or integrating emerging data streams across transportation.
Leaders who tune out the noise and combine prudent financial discipline with targeted smart investments will stand the best chance of weathering near-term storms while positioning for long-term success. Extreme caution is wise but undue paralysis and inaction are not options.