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2021 will be a very interesting year for company’s supply chains as the unprecedented disruption that we saw in 2020 meant that there was huge amounts of innovation in logistical technology. On top of this, new challenges face suppliers such as Brexit and the unpredictability of the pandemic and lockdowns. If you are the owner of a small business you might not be able to implement every single one of the trends mentioned in this article, but it is still worth bearing them in mind as they highlight the difficulties that you will face this year, and may also inspire you to come up with your own solutions.

 

1. Ecommerce Will Not Slow Down

 

Ecommerce has been one of the business buzzwords of the last 12 months. The lockdowns have meant that more people than ever have flocked to online retailers to purchase their goods. Subsequently, ecommerce providers have competed to give the best delivery options and now customers expect speedy, efficient deliveries. It is vital you keep up, so you might want to consider building relationships with 3PL logistics and courier companies to handle such demanding customer requirements. Whilst customers will likely understand some unavoidable issues, ultimately they will buy from the most reliable vendors.

 

2. Disruptions And Problems Will Continue

 

Whilst vaccines are being rolled out as quickly as possible, it is clear that the implications of the pandemic will continue to affect supply chains throughout 2021. It is also likely that Brexit will be impacting your operations to some degree. The best thing to do is to make your supply chain options as flexible and adaptable as possible by making contingency places so you can implement necessary changes quickly and effectively. As for Brexit, the changes to customs and Amazon fulfilment will undoubtedly be a nuisance to some of you reading this. Be sure to contact us via our social media for advice on this topic.

 

3. Digitalising Processes

 

The digitisation of your processes could certainly make your supply chain more efficient. New IoT systems and Blockchain technology are likely to be extremely popular in 2021. These two technologies have the potential to solve important glitches in traceability and provenance challenges, especially when used in combination with each other, since they allow certain elements of your supply chain to work automatically.

 

4. Artificial Intelligence and Analytics

 

Artificial Intelligence technologies can allow companies to ingest massive amounts of historical and real-time streaming data, clean and prepare it, and see if applying machine learning or AI algorithms and techniques to that data will provide valuable predictions for their business.  In the supply chain realm, leading supply chain software companies are actively working to embed existing applications with AI and machine learning. For most companies this is a less risky and more cost-effective way to access the capabilities of AI. Whilst this seems daunting, some cheaper, simpler forms of the technology, such as Amazon Forecast, are with considering.

 

5. Robotic Automation

 

Reports have already surfaced this week detailing how the UK warehouse industry should begin adopting more robotic technology. Whether this be in the form of automated retrievals or self-driving trucks, 2021 will likely be the year where this technology truly comes into its own. Whilst it does sound like it is from a bad sci-fi film, don’t be put off. The implementation of this technology will certainly stream line your  supply chain and so even if you can’t afford it yourself, it might be worth attempting to partner with other companies for a segment of your supply chain (such as a courier service or a modern warehouse) in order to take advantage of this technology in 2021.

 

Whilst maintaining a supply chain may seem impossible in 2021, don’t forget we can help.

 

At J&P, we have helped countless ecommerce sellers, so please do not hesitate to get in touch should you have any further questions about improving your business operations, or if you need any help with adapting your business’ supply chain. You can contact us at enquiries@jpaccountant.com, on our social media, or give us a call on 0161 637 1080.