A lot to look forward to

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We’ve seen plenty of false dawns over the past couple of years, but when the governor of the Bank of England says that the recovery has finally taken hold, then it deserves serious consideration.

In fact, there have been a number of surveys indicating growth in supply chain and logistics activity over the past few months. A Skills for Logistics survey in the summer reported growing optimism among employers with growth firmly on the agenda.

Members of the UK Warehousing Association were expecting to invest more in equipment, people and facilities. More than half expected an increase in sales next year. And the growth in online retail has had an impact. A study by the British Retail Consortium and KPMG found that almost one in five non-food products is now bought online either for home delivery or click and collect.

Of course, if you want to find out what is really happening in supply chain and logistics, then a great starting point is the entries in the European Supply Chain Excellence Awards.

Not surprisingly, there was plenty of evidence of the development of online shopping and the response of traditional retailers to compete with the online specialists. But there are also companies that started out as online only retailers that are now opening stores.

Increasingly we live in an omni-channel world – one where the supply chain must be as responsive to a buyer on a mobile phone as it is to a shopper in the store.

The trend towards strong collaborative supply chain partnerships was also highlighted by the Awards entries. There was also evidence of the fact that companies are moving from a position in which the over-riding priority is to cut supply chain costs (although there will never be a day when costs don’t matter).

But, there is now more scope for innovative thinking – enabling companies to be more agile, responsive and resilient – and ultimately delivering a better customer experience. The judges saw plenty of evidence of that this year – and it will be vital to companies focusing on growth in the coming year.

Congratulations to all those companies that made the Awards shortlist – and particularly the winners. They have moved the bar up a few notches – next year’s entrants will have a lot to live up to. And that means there is a lot for the rest of us to look forward to.

Malory Davies FCILT,

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