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How leaders are addressing supply chain complexity, by the numbers

Körber set to find out how successful companies are acting differently in the supply chain to meet customer demands and face the challenges of tomorrow head-on with its Benchmarking Report.

If your supply chain spent the last two years in crisis mode, you’re far from alone. Many supply chain professionals had to step up health and safety precautions to prevent employees from contracting COVID, while continuing to maintain pre-pandemic levels of output and accommodating a swift increase in ecommerce business. Then, as vaccines became widely available, supply chains continued to feel the impact of global shutdowns. Raw materials were unavailable, delaying production, and logistical backups among land & sea freight carriers slowed delivery.


As businesses started to come up for a breath, Körber saw an opportunity to better understand how supply chain leaders addressed these complexities – the current practices, innovations implemented and plans laid that led supply chains through the pandemic, and will continue to impact operations moving forward.


In our first-ever Supply Chain Benchmarking report, we’ve uncovered these insights – gathered from survey responses by experts across industries and countries – for six specific categories of supply chain operations. Based on each expert’s responses, their supply chains were labeled as a “leader,” “advanced,” “developing” or “initiating” for each area of operation.


No matter the role you play in evolving your supply chain, the report offers new insights and the chance to understand how you measure against your peers’ operations, as well as the steps you can take to advance the maturity of your supply chain.

What we found:


  • Labor Engagement, Safety and Efficiency: The labor market remains tight, with unemployment rates at historic lows. Supply chains are looking for ways to successfully attract new talent, and leverage technology to both keep employees motivated and reduce attrition. 86% of leaders  - as opposed to 37% of all respondents - feel they have enough staff to keep up with complexity, but they’re not resting on their laurels. 73% have adopted gamification technology, solutions that offer virtual incentives, ongoing feedback and tips for employees throughout the day. Innovative technology such as gamification can help employees remain engaged and feel rewarded.
  • End Customer Experience: Every supply chain understands the “Amazon Effect” – customer expectations for faster, cheaper delivery only continue to rise, and with more customers purchasing goods online, the warehouse is often directly responsible for meeting those expectations. 92% of respondents said a strong supply chain is a critical or major factor for customer satisfaction. Leaders, however, are taking the initiative to adopt new technologies that shoulder the burden of managing these orders for their staff. For example, every leader, 100%, uses an order management system to help optimize order fulfillment at the network level.
  • Agility & Resilience: The last two years have been a crash course in resilience, with operating procedures changing weekly and even daily. Flexibility and scalability are essential to keeping the supply chain moving during unforeseen stalls or growth, with an understanding of operations across the supply chain remaining key for quick pivots. 79% of leaders said they have sufficient end-to-end visibility into their own supply chain network to assess and mitigate disruption, while 67% said they have a strong network of external partners that could help them overcome the unexpected.
  • Sustainability: As one of the fastest growing areas of supply chain operations, sustainability is critical in the eyes of both shareholders and customers – and there’s no doubt supply chains are taking it seriously, as 57% of survey respondents ranked as “leaders” based on the steps they’re taking to help their operations become greener. Leaders are examining every step of their product lifecycle, from manufacturing to delivery, to find methods of cutting waste and emissions. For example, 77% of leaders say they’ve made use of sustainable packaging materials a priority.
  • Digitization and Process Automation: manual processes tend to be slow and error-prone and can become a major drain on resources and operational efficiency. Supply chain leaders are adopting software and technologies that automate processes and reduce these inefficiencies. In fact, 33% of leaders have cut out manual and paper processes entirely. And many leaders don’t need outside assistance to complete these digital transformation projects: 59% said they can plan and execute them with in-house resources.
  • Facility Optimization: New industrial space is in short supply, and rents are skyrocketing. Even in a vacuum these would be frustrating challenges, but with customer demands growing more complex, the complexities quickly compound. Fortunately, leaders are finding ways to make better use of their brownfield facilities – 61% plan facility improvements using modeling and simulation tools which allows them to assess the operational impact prior to making the investment. Once the improvements are implemented, leaders are leveraging cutting edge technology to speed up order processing through the warehouse. For example, nearly every single leader, 98%, has adopted flexible automation solutions such as autonomous mobile robots.


We highly encourage you to read through the full report here. You can even take a short survey yourself, and gain guidance on where to focus your efforts. Find our rapid assessment tool here.

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