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Infrastructure and Operations

The Long Road Ahead for Supply Chain Automation

85% of retailers manage supply chains with manual processes

Digital transformation and automation may be big priorities for a lot of organizations today, but for many of them the progress toward those goals is at the most formative of stages. It can be easy to forget that amid all the hype, but we do see some reality checks creeping in. For example, last week a study of retail executives showed that most of their businesses still rely on manual supply chain management processes.

Conducted among 500 leaders at US and UK retailers, the study by Gravity Supply Chain Solutions found that 85 percent of them still don’t have their supply chain management automated from end-to-end, with about 46 percent saying that they still mainly depend on manual processes.

Among those dependent primarily on manual processes, 65 percent report they’re a year or more away from digitally transforming their supply chain. This, in spite of the fact that 60 percent of the survey respondents believe that digitization of the supply chain is crucial to reaching for the brass ring of omnichannel customer experience.

This tracks with what supply chain experts are seeing across industry verticals.

“A lot of hype and conversation might lead you to believe that digitalization is reality,” says Marisa Brown, a senior principal research lead at APQC told Inbound Logistics last month. “The truth is that it is not yet widespread.”

According to APQC, 84 percent of supply chain professionals believe that automation and digitization will have the biggest impact on supply chains in the next three years.

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