modern mechanics blimp coverWalmart’s recent patent application seems like something out of a 1959 issue of Popular Mechanics. Who would conjour up a mixture of last century tech to fill modern supply chain demands? Turns out it may be Walmart who mixes and matches blimps, drones, mechanized warehousing, and wireless communication to bring near-instant delivery to the masses and do better than Amazon’s Prime 2 day delivery service.

returned goodsIt’s the 4th quarter of the year when retailers are finalizing their stock in anticipation of the holiday season. Historical trends set the stage for quantities, locations, and pricing but a major shift in how consumers consider their own purchase strategies will play havoc with retailers. The problem is with product returns and how consumers now consider their purchases to be temporary.

trucksHow are various kinds of sensors being used in your supply chain, and do they make a difference? Here’s a look at transportation and the use of a variety of sensors, black boxes, and mobile computing that are driving efficiency and already showing up on trucking fleets.

blockchain chainIt’s true that blockchain is in many ways just another technology looking to intrude on EDI’s entrenched place in the B2B world. But there are issues with the way we’ve dealt with supply chain documents that even after 40 years, have not been sufficiently addressed. Blockchain may have that silver bullet that makes the benefits of adoption worth the pain of change.

what is the blockchain and why is it so importantEDI documents and the supply chain data ecosystem seems to be pretty secure. By secure I mean that it’s rare to hear of any cyber breaches affecting commerce. Most often cyber attacks are identified in POS systems and other environments where consumer information is stolen and sold. But just because it isn’t a hot news topic doesn’t mean it can’t or doesn’t happen. And because the documents that run the order processing systems across the globe were created long before cyber warfare was a real threat, new ways of protecting them are being introduced.

It’s been a while since Walmart first insisted that its suppliers moved to its digital order process. Back then the prospect of using EDI rather than fax or phone to place orders seemed like a technological hurdle. And in fact it was a significant hurdle that plenty of suppliers bucked against. But today Walmart’s tactics have become accepted and electronic order processing is no longer the pariah it once was. Now the retailer is making another mandate to its suppliers. But this time it’s not about what but where.

chatbotsYou’ve likely encountered chatbots even if they didn’t introduce themselves as such. Today you’re most likely to encounter them when you call a customer support hotline or online chat service. They ask questions and deliver answers and act surprisingly like human operators… except they’re much more quickly available.

The consumer world seems overwhelmingly digital. From smartphones and smartwatches to IoT devices like thermostats and Amazon Alexa we’re constantly and instantly connected. But what about the supply chain? Is every order initiated by an automated function and passed along at light speed to the manufacturer who instructs their robots to build the order and put it on a pallet?

smart logisticsGlobally, there is a demand for smarter, cost effective and sustainable operations to suit the needs of consumers who expect higher customer service levels. Business can not go on as usual. There have been major disruptions in the logistics tech market, providing opportunities for entrepreneurs to make a dramatic impact in the industry.

SupplyChainTechnologyNewsEc-bp.com has been acquired by PMG360 who will continue to publish supply chain focused content and relaunch the site and newsletter as Supply Chain Technology News. Scott Koegler will continue to guide the editorial direction as the site’s executive editor.

Supply Chain Technology News has been published as ec-bp since 2003 as the advocate for lowering the barriers to the adoption of EDI. The editorial focus has expanded beyond EDI to encompass the full gamut of supply chain practices and technologies and to provide supply chain professionals information about forces guiding the industry with editorials, technology news and trends.