Supply Chain Leaders Plan to Embrace New Tech to Overcome Challenges: Survey

The TrueCommerce study uncovered that the same supply chain challenges remain year-to-year and that most supply chain leaders plan to adopt advanced technologies.

TrueCommerce, Inc. recently commissioned a survey of global supply chain leaders for its “Supply Chain Trends Report 2024—Inflation, Talent, and Tech: The Current State of Business and Supply Chain.” The research study uncovered that the same supply chain challenges remain year-to-year and that most supply chain leaders plan to adopt advanced technologies such as supply chain management (SCM) systems, electronic data interchange (EDI) tools, and cloud-based ERP solutions to overcome those obstacles.

In 2023, business leaders pinpointed three major challenges that impact the supply chain including cost control (37%), acquiring new customers (34%) and attracting and retaining talent (33%). In 2024, these same three challenges remain with cost control (35%) and retaining talent (35%) listed as the most important followed by acquiring new customers (30%). While respondents understand the big-picture challenges, the data also reveals they may not be connecting the dots on all the factors that impact them.

“There’s no doubt that businesses are trying to evolve,” says Ryan Tierney, vice president of product management at TrueCommerce. “As things change within the market, businesses are making advancements: They are trying to be faster, be more accurate, and improve their efficiencies. To do these things, they need to control costs, attract and retain talent and bring in new customers. Those are critical to operations and ongoing.”

Key Takeaways:

  • Leaders are most concerned about three factors related to supply chain disruptions: price changes (45%), labor shortages (34%) and cyberthreats (31%).
  • The survey found 95% of companies face order-management challenges, a key to streamlining operations, boosting sales, and ensuring customer satisfaction. Some of the top challenges include inventory discrepancies (47%), returns/reverse logistics (46%) and volume fluctuations (39%).
  • On top of the business and supply chain challenges already mentioned, 49% of company leaders managing supply chains are worried about cyber threats, 43% are concerned about currency fluctuations and exchange rates, and 35% experience quality control issues and language differences.
  • Government mandates add another layer of complexity to global supply chains. Leaders are dealing with mandates surrounding product/quality regulations (52%), tariffs and import/export restrictions (51%) and environmental regulations (42%).
  • The report further indicates that while there may be similarities in terms of business and supply chain challenges among the leaders surveyed, there remains a range of approaches when it comes to managing and improving these issues.
  • The survey revealed that over the past few years, nearly all business leaders have taken steps to improve inventory management and plan for supply chain disruption. At the top of the list of strategies was adopting new tech (73%), while over half (64%) plan to diversify suppliers and/or increase safety stock (57%). The research also uncovered that nearly 60% are investing in supply chain management (SCM) and electronic data interchange (EDI) tools to mitigate supply chain delays.
  • In 2023, business leader priorities were to achieve sales increases (39%), improve order-processing accuracy (33%) and improve resiliency (28%). In 2024, the biggest priority remains to increase sales (34%). However, when comparing these goals and challenges listed earlier, the two don’t align. For example, practices like improving workflow visibility, reducing time to market, boosting productivity, and automating processes, are steps that could improve cost control, but they are low on business leaders’ list of goals.