Sustainability and Visibility Climbing Supply Chain Agenda, Says Survey

27th July 2020

Logistics BusinessSustainability and Visibility Climbing Supply Chain Agenda, Says Survey

Epicor Software Corporation has today released its 2020 Global Growth Index, a report that explores the growth trajectory of companies around the world and provides insight on how business leaders are using technology to support and drive growth initiatives. The index looks at the constantly changing state of growth in the manufacturing, distribution, and retail industries along with what trends impact the bottom line.

In the UK, a third of businesses (33%) felt that political pressures over the last twelve months were affecting their supply chain and ability to grow. In particular, almost half (49%) felt that Brexit and Covid-19 respectively, were going to negatively impact business growth over the coming year.

The wider political volatility combined with the New Now has highlighted how one of the main problems faced by many UK businesses is the lack of visibility into suppliers and customers when needing to change, scale up, or scale down operations. Without visibility and knowledge of external influences, businesses felt unable to react quickly and appropriately to market changes.

With allegations surfacing in the UK of factories paying half the minimum wage or ignoring physical distancing precautions during lockdown, the research found that organisations in the UK did see the correlation between improving visibility and creating sustainable supply chains with business growth.

Almost half (49%) of companies surveyed said that they are directly investing in sustainability efforts in order to drive business growth and promote ethical sourcing. Meanwhile, just under a third (32%) are turning to ‘green’ power sources for their operations, and 35% are focusing on making sure they have a positive social impact across the supply chain. In addition, over a third (36%) of the UK businesses surveyed recognised that better visibility would help them overcome their business growth challenges in the next 12 months.

With sustainability being front of mind for the UK’s conscious consumer, UK organisations recognise the need to meet this requirement in their supply chains to be successful, as the research highlighted that over a third (39%) believe that customer trust is key to increasing its competitiveness.

“What we expect to see is demand for more agile and flexible supply chains in the UK,” commented Andy Coussins, SVP and Head of International at Epicor.

“We anticipate artificial intelligence and machine learning to start to make an impact in the same way we have seen analytics and big data making a difference. Data-driven operations allow companies to understand their supply chain, their relationships with customers, partners and suppliers, in a way which they have never before. With these new in-depth insights, they can plan to optimise all along the chain to reach sustainability goals and react much quicker to external factors.”

When asked about key technology trends that businesses could see emerging over the next 12-18 months, 5G (36%) and AI/ML (27%) were said to have the largest direct impact on future growth in their industry. On what played the greatest role in creating a positive influence for business growth over the past 12 months, technology and IT infrastructure (33.9%) was the highlight for those surveyed.

“It’s no secret that recent global events have disrupted the normal order of operations,” continued Coussins. “The trends outlined in this report prove to the wider business community that technology investment is paying off, and this technology investment will continue to be vital if they wish to successfully maintain business resiliency, adapt to political volatility, and stay flexible around market changes.”

This online survey was conducted in March 2020 by global research firm Dimensional Research. Responses were received from 2,002 professionals across 23 countries. All respondents oversee or perform essential duties that informs the business decisions for their organisation, across the manufacturing, distribution and shipping, retail and e-commerce verticals. The survey did not knowingly poll customers of Epicor. Survey participants represented organisations with 100 employees to 5,000+ employees worldwide.