Survey: The highest-priority supply chain technology is…

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
Dan Berthiaume profile picture

Supply chain executives are investing in digital transformation, with almost all agreeing on one solution as a priority.

According to the results of the “2020 State of Supply Chain Innovation Survey” from Kenco Logistics, when asked how their organization defines innovation, 47% of surveyed supply chain executives chose “digital transformation.” When asked how much they are willing to invest in innovation, 39% of respondents were willing to invest 10-20% more and 31% were willing to invest over 20% more. 

A leading nine in 10 respondents said supply chain visibility technology is a priority, with 43% classifying it as a high priority. Other supply chain technologies large numbers of respondents consider important include predictive and adaptive analytics (69% priority, including 28% high priority), and robotics, automation and emerging solutions (55% priority, including 21% high priority). 

When asked the extent to which e-commerce is important to their organization, 24% of respondents said it was extremely important and their top priority, while 41% said it was very important. Less than 1% said it was not at all important to their business. 

Ranking supply chain capabilities in order of importance when running an e-commerce operation, 47% cited inventory levels and availability as their top priority, while 41% ranked same-day or two-day delivery as their first priority. In addition, 31% of respondents ranked easy and free returns as their second-most-important capability. Interestingly, fewer than 1% of respondents listed having an Amazon footprint inside their warehouse to distribute products or distribution and fulfillment by Amazon as primary provider as their top features of importance. 

When asked which criteria are most important when evaluating third-party logistics providers (3PLs), 64% of respondents reported that a 3PL must provide a full breadth of supply chain services, including fulfillment, distribution, transportation and more. Fifty-five percent said 3PLs must provide innovation as a core competency, while 40% said that it is extremely important that their 3PL helps them with e-commerce, with 95% of small- and mid-sized companies responding this way.

Over half of participants expect to co-invest in new technologies with their 3PLs, as opposed to 15% who expect to invest in a solution and bring it to their 3PL to implement.