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As the new year begins, it brings a sense of renewed energy and opportunity. For supply chain leaders, it’s a chance to reevaluate their strategies and adjust to stay ahead of an ever-evolving landscape. But with uncertainty around every corner, it can be difficult to know where to begin or what to consider.

While we don’t have a crystal ball, FourKites leaders do have a lot of experience and insight from customers, partners and others in the industry. Here’s a round-up of their words of wisdom.

  1. There will be no “back to normal.” We haven’t seen economic conditions like these in decades — if ever. Inflation is hovering near 8%, and most U.S. businesses are ratcheting up their prices in response. Yet even as the specter of recession continues to loom, holiday sales are strong and unemployment is relatively low, for now. But if the Fed keeps raising interest rates — which seems likely — unemployment is expected to rise. Bottom line, there can be no “return to normal” for our supply chains when the macroeconomic environment is so abnormal.
    Matt Elenjickal, founder and CEO 
  2. Logistics service providers will consolidate. We will see a consolidation in service providers across trucking and freight forwarding. Understanding risk and who you are partnered with will be critical for shippers. For LSP’s, consolidation, M&A, differentiation, and customer retention will be key to achieving their financial targets.
    Glenn Koepke, GM of Network Collaboration
  3. New manufacturing hubs will emerge. Disruption after disruption and geopolitical uncertainty have caused manufacturers and retailers to rethink their strategy in China. While most will not shutter Chinese operations because they want to continue selling in the region, major companies are considering manufacturing in countries like Vietnam, India and Turkey to serve Western markets better. Disruptions and the total time to recovery have increased costs to deliver finished goods, making it easier to justify operations in new countries in exchange for more resilience. For many, gone are the days of manufacturing only in China and shipping everywhere.
    Todd Simms, VP, Industry Strategy, Manufacturing
  4. Order lifecycle management will become more critical. Retailers should arm their employees with the information and technology they need to deliver excellent customer service. With today’s technology, customer-facing employees can (and should) know, with just a few taps on a screen, when the next shipment will arrive and whether that medium polka-dot sweater will be on the truck.The key here is visibility into orders right down to the SKU level. This level of detail allows retailers to know exactly where their shipments are, and what is on them, without wasting precious time and resources. Retailers that haven’t yet implemented real-time transportation visibility – the foundation for end-to-end supply chain intelligence – should consider doing so now.
    Mark Delaney, VP, Industry Strategy, Retail & CPG
  5. Europe will import truck drivers. This year we’ll see carriers recruit drivers from Asia, India and the Philippines to drive in Europe as a driver shortage continues to plague the market. Carriers will need to work with recruitment agencies to bring drivers to Europe and will have to invest time and money in training Asian drivers, but the ROI will be worth it for many.
    – Marc Boileau, Senior Vice President Sales, Network & Operations EMEA
  6. IoT will deliver. IoT devices will continue to come down in price while capabilities improve. New form factors and more highly attuned sensors will give supply chain professionals the ability to not only track orders and individual assets with unprecedented precision, but also the ability to monitor pressure, temperature, light and other critical environmental factors at every step of the journey.These are highly valuable capabilities for shippers and customers of everything from ice cream and other perishable goods to pharmaceuticals that require 100% cold chain integrity from the manufacturer to the final destination. With 5G networks practically ubiquitous right now, we’ll see an explosion in the use of IoT devices in the supply chain in the coming year.
    – Delbert Cope, CTO

The supply chain landscape is set to be shaped by a number of factors in 2023. An increase in logistics capacity will allow shippers to regain leverage as they focus on controlling costs. However, continued geopolitical and economic uncertainty may create new challenges for companies to navigate.

To address these challenges and more, companies will continue looking for ways to streamline operations and improve efficiency. Additionally, artificial intelligence and IoT devices will play a key role in improving supply chain visibility and responsiveness. All in all, the supply chain industry is entering a period of rapid change, and companies that can adapt and innovate will be well-positioned to succeed.

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