Online retail is now a firmly established reality in our daily lives. However, online grocery shopping has yet to become such an embedded reality for the Canadian consumer. This is set to change over the coming years, as industry observers predict a surge in high profile providers pushing us away from the check-out lane, and towards our digital devices. This transition will rely on well-trained supply chain and logistics professionals, who will help ensure this transformation of the grocery sector can take place.
What does this mean for recent graduates of supply chain and logistics programs? Here’s just a small taste.
An Expanding Market in Every Sense
Figures show that the Canadian buying public has not been tempted towards online grocery shopping thus far. In fact, online sales only take up $2 billion of this $100 billion market. However, industry observers have noted that big changes seemed to have started brewing in 2017. Sales are predicted to swell up to $4 billion over the next couple of years, and big industry players like Loblaw have announced plans to expand home delivery options.
Other developments south of the border might also creep their way north, either through expansion or simply by inspiring other businesses to follow suit. In particular, Amazon’s landmark purchase of the Whole Foods brand and launch of programs like Prime Pantry opens up its huge client base to the world of ‘one click shopping’. Industry observers have already pointed out that Whole Foods supermarkets already in operation in Ontario could act as the perfect springboard for that company’s online grocery campaign in Canada. Along with the rapid expansion of online grocery start-ups like Instacart across Ontario, and the prospect of lean European competition from the likes of Aldi putting a further squeeze traditional supermarkets, it seems like the future of groceries in Canada could soon get a lot more digital.
Food Expiration Challenges Underline Benefits of Comprehensive Logistics Courses
Groceries differ from other e-commerce products—such as clothes or electronics—in that the products sold often have restrictive expiration and refrigeration constraints. Even Amazon has encountered this as an issue, with customers still more likely to buy less-perishable items like coffee and candy than to opt for fresh veggies and fruits. Graduates of logistics courses will certainly find a rewarding challenge working in this sector!
To overcome this problem, highly efficient logistics efforts will be important. Ensuring that goods are properly stored in warehouses, and that products are quickly delivered in order to avoid spoilage will be essential. With the help of innovative supply chain professionals, customers will be able to order groceries online without fear of defrosted or spoilt products arriving.
The challenges of the grocery sector are tied to the unique logistic demands of food retail
‘Bricks and Clicks’ Combo Stresses the Importance of Finding Creative Solutions
While online retailers push forward, professionals withsupply chain and logistics training may note an interesting retail trend. Increasingly, online retailers are appreciating the benefits of brick and mortar supermarkets. These can continue to make sales in the traditional way, but can also act as well-positioned distribution points for online orders, with the likes of check-out employees being re-designated as order fillers.
This new kind of retail could offer an interesting solution to graduates who want to ensure that goods ordered online are properly stored before last-mile transport to the houses of customers. With the industry evolving, innovation and efficiency measures will be actively sought to ensure all purchasing avenues are being used effectively.
Do you want a rewarding career helping world-class businesses run smoothly?
When it comes to finding a career that’s in demand, pays well, and offers a stimulating challenge, few sectors compare to logistics. Logistics makes the world go round, ensuring that store shelves stay properly stocked, parcels make their way to customer doorsteps, and that the modern global marketplace keeps running smoothly. As such an important facet of modern life, it’s no wonder that the logistics sector is always adopting new approaches, new technology, and inspiring new ideas.
Innovation is a fact of life for professionals working in this field. Pursue this career path, and you might get to see several important changes first-hand. What are some of the biggest trends currently shaping the industry? Here’s just a small taste!
1. Self-Driving Trucks Could Be on the Horizon for Pros With Logistics Training
It’s no secret that self-driving technology is currently being developed by the likes of Tesla, Google, and other major tech and transport players. In fact, several important breakthroughs have already taken place, with semi-autonomous trucks already making deliveries between California and Texas, while many other companies are also announcing their own innovation goals, testing out prototypes, and teasing out exciting details about where the industry is headed. While this technology might not take over all operations in the time it takes new students to complete their logistics training, it’s possible that you might see more and more self-driving technology boosting efficiency once you begin your career.
2. You Could See Plenty of Developments in Robotics During Your Career in Logistics
Self-driving trucks aren’t the only technological change that promises to make supply chains even more efficient. New advancements in robotics are adding more and more automation to the warehouses that store goods as well.
More and more warehouses are using robotic technology
Already, shipping giants like Amazon employ robots by the thousands, which help the company speedily get deliveries to customers within just 48 hours. Other warehouse/robot operations have included robots designed to climb warehouse shelves, robots equipped with suction-cup arms, and other high-tech developments that seem straight out of a sci-fi story. After completing your supply chain training program, it’s possible that you’ll see even more of these helpful innovations cropping up in warehouses across the planet.
3. Sustainability Is Sweeping Through Supply Chains
While many changes sweeping through supply chains are tech-driven, not all of them are about squeezing in added efficiency through the clever use of data and machines. In fact, one of the biggest trends currently taking over the logistics sector is sustainability.
Supply chains today are now more aware than ever that moving goods across the world can be done in a way that minimizes a product’s carbon footprint and reduces waste. In fact, many professionals working in logistics are currently developing and adopting what are known as circular supply chains. These supply chains go several steps beyond getting items from point A to B. They also take into account what happens to products once they are ready to be recycled, and are finding clever new ways of reducing waste while also boosting bottom lines. One restaurant chain, for example, has started collecting and sending its used coffee grounds to farms. The farms then use the compost to grow oyster mushrooms, and sell the mushrooms back to the restaurants for an efficient waste-reducing option. Throughout your career, the logistics training you receive could help you come up with clever new ways of reengineering supply chains to make the world a greener place.
How organizations make decisions has changed dramatically over the years. While decades ago a lot of decisions were made based on gut instinct and shareholder preferences, in today’s world analytics and data play a crucial role in making business decisions.
Big data refers to huge sets of data that can be mined by computers to provide insights into businesses, trends, and behaviour. The concept of big data has become increasingly prevalent over the past several years. In fact, as much as 90 per cent of data was created in just the past two years alone.
Want to learn more about big data? Read on to discover the potential it holds for businesses.
The Potential Impact of Big Data Analysis for Businesses
Using big data to make decisions is like using a flashlight in the dark. It takes the guesswork out of making real-world business decisions that could directly impact the profitability and efficiency of a company. This is why most major companies today leverage big data in almost every aspect, from customer service, to marketing, to supply chain and logistics. In fact, according to Forbes, companies that integrate big data analytics into operations see a 10 per cent or more improvement in supply chain efficiency.
After you complete asupply chain and logistics diploma, you could see the implications of using big data in the real world. Big data is said to improve a company’s reaction time to issues regarding the supply chain by as much as 41 per cent! Useful data helps supply chain professionals anticipate issues before they happen and adapt to prevent the operation from going off course.
Using big data helps take the guesswork out of business decisions
After Business Courses, You May Realize There Are Many Forms of Big Data
Big data can be found everywhere and anywhere, and no business is exempt. From small-scale mom and pop shops to multinational companies, every organization can leverage big data to add a boost to their operations.
For small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and large corporations, big data can be found in transactions, social media, reviews, feedback, supply chain logistics, website analytics, and more. If after completing a business or supply chain training program you find yourself working for an SME, don’t forget that you can tap into external resources for useful big data if your company’s data is low. Many data companies sell relevant data like customer lists, buying habits, and internet search data that can help you analyze your customer base and make good business decisions.
Putting Big Data Into Action in Your Career After Business Courses
Businesses can miss opportunities to grow by failing to leverage big data. Big data contains useful insights about almost anything you could imagine. Customer buying habits, product demand, recruitment, trends, and more can all be analyzed and even predicted by using big data properly. For example, software and applications that track what your customers are saying online can provide invaluable insights into what’s working and what’s not. Companies that ignore this information while making crucial business decisions are missing out on having the most important opinion in the room, the customer’s.
Leveraging big data can improve profitability
Knowing how to “mine” big data is a big undertaking, but the process is scalable. If you find yourself working for a small business, you can start by monitoring social media and website traffic. For bigger companies, consider creating a budget to hire professionals who can mine useful data for insights. According to Forbes, when a typical Fortune 1000 company invests in big data and improves data accessibility by 10 per cent, they will see an additional payoff of an astounding $65 million.
Once limited to military use, drone technology is reaching new heights in the commercial sector. Unmanned autonomous vehicles (UAVs) are fast becoming the shiny new tool of the supply chain trade.
What does this mean for the business of supply chain management? From reducing costs and delivery time, to creating new industry policies and mapping the supply chain with 3D imagery, drones are set to reshape this field in a big way.
Drones Shrink Supply Delivery Time & Cost
The race for fastest delivery time is already intense, with eBay dispatching college students by foot to do the speedy groundwork that ensures “next-day delivery.” It might sound impossible, but drone technology could bring products from factories to doorsteps in just 30 minutes.
That’s the goal of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. He says drones would reduce reliance on traditional shipping providers (like trains and trucks), significantly shrink delivery time and increase output, without straining resources. And their parts are significantly (90%!) cheaper than those we use for traditional delivery.
While risks associated with UAVs might bump up specific insurance premiums (ie: new insurance charges to account for product theft or weather damage), the overall impact is a cheaper link in the supply chain.
Amazon’s bid for delivery drones has hit several speedbumps along the way with the need for federal permissions and regulations.
These new rules involve geographic, speed, and weight restrictions. As of June 1 2015, the FAA has specified that delivery drones can only fly in good weather, not close to airports, and within visible site of the operator.
Some industry leaders are frustrated by these restrictions. “Drones seem to offer an affordable and flexible solution – but not if the FAA rules are in place,” says Guy Courtin of Constellation Research in an article on ZDNet.
Opinions like these may encourage companies to move even more elements of manufacturing abroad, to cheaper countries with more drone freedom.
Drones Allow Supply Chain Mapping
UAVs are equipped with wireless communications and data analysis software, allowing them to track the location of a person using data from their smartphone before completing the delivery.
Cameras and GPS capabilities are essential to UAVs, which makes 3d mapping possible. A drone can update its route in real-time, and film its trek from warehouse to doorstep, offering a visual map of the supply chain timeline.
Students in supply chain management logistics courses can now work with the data these new features provide.
Drones Will Do More Than Just Deliver
UAVs can also be used to perform maintenance checks and repairs, especially in remote, inclement, and hazardous conditions.
What’s more, UAV surveillance can continually monitor warehouses and inventory; becoming the eyes and ears of a building to monitor it in real-time. While a little Orwellian, that’s undoubtedly useful and cost-efficient.
There are both major gains and significant challenges to integrating drones in the workforce. If we keep on top of it, with innovative supply chain training and an ear on the industry, the future could truly be sky high.
Are you interested in training for a challenging career in supply chain management? Visit NAHB to explore our program and connect with an advisor.