Welcome to 2020 – is change inevitable?

Happy New Year to all Logistics Manager readers. Here’s to a prosperous and successful 2020. So, what does this year have in store for all logistics professionals? Here are my predictions.

  • No respite from the B-word…

After the election, it’s happening. And let’s face it, it was always going to happen. But what kind of condition is the British economy embarking into our brave new future? Well, according to Suren Thiru, head of economics at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), the UK economy limped through the final quarter of 2019. Ouch…

“A faltering service sector together with listless manufacturing activity points to a downbeat outturn for UK GDP growth in the fourth quarter of 2019,” Thiru warned.

Yet Colliers International said that UK online retail sales in November and December are forecast to rise 10.5% year-on-year to £20 billion.

Now the B-word is happening it is essential that British retail and manufacturing is given the right conditions to grow. The onus is on the new government to deliver that.

  • The future is now…

Wrapping Robot

The 2020s will be a decade of incredible change for the logistics sector. Automation. Digitisation. Innovation. Call it what you will, but the way the warehouse runs in 2029 will be unrecognisable from 2019.

Have you identified which technologies will affect change in your market? Do you know what suppliers to work with to transform your business into one fit for the 20s?

How will the sector look once indoor robotic transport becomes the norm… or wearable devices for employees…? Come back to me at the end of the decade and tell me how you’re getting on.

  • Supply chains will have to find a way to become more agile…

There will be an increasing demand on supply chain agility, flexibility and technological capabilities to maintain competitiveness in 2020. Many businesses rely entirely on the agility of their supply chains, no more so than SMEs in e-commerce for example.

At least this will be driven by data analytics, and by artificial intelligence. The more insight that supply chain professionals can garner will enable better and better decision making. Look at digital twins and warehouse operations modelling. Any way to better use resource and labour is a win for business.

  • Logistics will have to address its environmental impact…

Be it a reduction in road, sea or air miles for the movement of goods, the amount of power the warehouse consumes, or the types of materials sourced in the supply chain – logistics cannot exist in isolation and ignore its impact.

Yes, reductions in overall emissions/ consumption of materials are good, but customers, partners and governments will want to see more. The days of a chief sustainability officer are inevitable as it becomes a core business function.

  • Sourcing will make or break a business…

Marks & Spencer, Croydon, 27 December 2019

Post-Christmas I was struck by the huge volumes of over-ordered foodstuffs on supermarket shelves. Take a look at this picture of my local Marks & Spencer on 27 December 2019, with quite a few turkeys that remained unsold. And this is a retailer that admitted to issues Despite years and years of historic ordering patterns it appeared that there was no predicting the Great British consumer and what they wanted to eat this Christmas. I predict a firestorm of high costs and over-ordering of goods as reporting season hits the City and the true cost of Christmas is counted. It could make or break some retailers and make for a turbulent Q1 to start the decade.

I wish you all the best for 2020

Christopher Walton, Editor, Logistics Manager

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