If you work in the manufacturing, logistics, or retail sectors, you’ve likely observed a great change in business processes in the past decade or so. Hers are some key shifts that market research firm Keypoint Intelligence has tracked—all of which are driving the need for new technology.

Automation/Robotics

Robots or automation have already been driving manufacturing processes and are increasingly being used in logistics and retail for purposes like item assembly, shipping, packing, and customer service. As more tasks become automated, humans will shift their responsibilities to new areas—including maintaining and servicing automation technologies.

Data Analytics

With the help of “smart” or predictive technology, sizable data sets can be collected to help companies better understand factory, plant, or retail operations. For instance, data can be used to predict equipment maintenance needs in manufacturing and make decisions based on the highest-selling products in retail. Data sets can also be applied to customers to better understand their propensity to purchase or predict their actions.

Security and Compliance

As the ability to collect data in these industries multiplies, the importance of data security and compliance only increases. Also, the physical security of factories, warehouses, and retail outlets continues to be a critical concern.

Mobility

Many manufacturing, logistics, and retail environments depend on mobile devices to help employees access and share information in real-time. This is even being taken further, with wearables to help ensure workers keep track of inventory data or even stay healthy depending on the environment.

Unified Communications

A mobile workforce has increasingly become a necessary part of business. While the need to communicate with minimal disruptions has never been greater, in part to the COVID pandemic. A unified communications platform allows employers to meet the needs of both their employees and customers alike by providing a platform that brings remote communication together, from any location.

Sustainability

Over time, customers have become more environmentally aware—trying to support companies that use sustainable techniques in their manufacturing, logistics, or retail operations. This may include initiatives to reduce or offset carbon emissions in operations, use recycled or recyclable material in products, and take back items for reuse.

e-Commerce

The ability to shop online reduces the need for physical retail locations (items can be shipped directly to a customer instead of a storefront first), and changes how items are packaged (e.g., their packaging can be simpler). It also increases the amount of competition in the market, as customers have access to innumerable options at their fingertips.

Social Distancing

In response to the COVID-19 threat, manufacturing, logistics, and retail outlets have updated their operations to enable social distancing and human safety. This may include requiring employees to sit more than six feet apart, setting up markings to keep customers sufficiently apart, and providing curbside pickup outside the store.

3D Printing

3D printing can be used for prototyping, design, manufacturing, and even end-customer engagement/collaboration in a retail environment. Given some of the ways COVID-19 is impacting traditional manufacturing (e.g., forced workspace redesign, supply chain disruptions), it’s very possible that a more decentralized model of 3D printing could prove attractive.

Industry Trends and Purchasing

The trends mentioned above are very much shaping purchasing decisions within the manufacturing, logistics, and retail sectors. If your organization falls into any of these areas, it’s worth considering how these trends are impacting your investments. Are you still relying on outdated technology and practices or are you delighting your staff and customers with new and more productive ways of doing business?

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