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Will IoT reinvent the supply chain? – RetailWire

Nov 26, 2019

Tom Ryan

While IoT is promising to reinvent the in-store experience with smart shelves, robots and other connected devices, the big early payoff appears to be back in the supply chain.

According to PWC’s “2019 Internet of Things Survey,” supply chain and asset management are retailers’ top priorities for active IoT projects. Almost half (49 percent) of retail respondents indicated they are already benefiting from using IoT solutions to improve their supply chain. Thirty-eight percent expect to see value within two years.

PWC writes, “IoT solutions can monitor and report the exact location, environment, and handling of shipments from a factory or fulfillment center to a retail store or customer destination. This capability offers retailers real-time insights into the handling of an order while it’s en route, while also spotlighting any delays.”

Microsoft’s “IoT Signals” report that arrived in late July likewise identified supply chain optimization as the top IoT use case at retail, cited by 64 percent of retailer respondents. That was followed by the closely-related inventory optimization, 59 percent; surveillance and security, 48 percent; loss prevention, 44 percent; and energy optimization, 40 percent.

“IoT is a huge benefit in supply chain,” a developer in the manufacturing sector stated in the report. “You can automate, get more efficient, use more data, and get faster.” 

IDC’s just-released “Worldwide Supply Chain 2020 Predictions” report explored how a wide range of digital technologies and platforms are expected to drive efficiencies. In an interview with Modern Materials Handling, Simon Ellis, program VP, global supply chain strategies at IDC and the report’s author, cited the potential benefits of faster supply chain decision making from AI, access to different streams of data through IoT and more reliable data through blockchain.

Mr. Ellis said, “Supply chains that do a better job of leveraging the data available to them, I believe, will outperform the ones that do not.”

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Does it make sense that IoT is driving quick dividends for retailers in the supply chain? Where do you see the obvious and less obvious supply chain benefits in the near and long term?

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“Does it make sense that IoT is driving quick dividends for retailers in the supply chain?”


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