March 2015 | Commentary | Checking In

A Supply Chain World Tour

Tags: Supply Chain Management, Global Economy, Asia, Global Logistics, China, Logistics

Felecia Stratton is the editor of Inbound Logistics magazine.

Demand-driven logistics spans the world…in practice and in print. For a host of reasons, U.S. shippers and consignees are taking control of how they pull—and push—global product to market.

Shifting demand dynamics, geopolitical volatility, currency fluctuations, government interference, lengthening and deepening supply networks, and cost reduction directives have conflated to consternate even the best supply chain strategies. That's why U.S. companies are flexing Incoterms to optimize point-of-origin logistics and reduce freight costs. It's why consignees are ordering smaller quantities from more suppliers, and using consolidation hubs in China and Hong Kong to fill containers. And it's why mobile phone manufacturers are decoupling shipments of higher-value units and lower-value accessories, and using packaging postponement strategies to better optimize air and ocean modes.

There's no doubt that the world's middle class is marching toward Asia. Eventually, even more manufacturers and retailers will follow. The maturation of e-commerce, and the relative speed and ease with which producers and consumers can tap this emerging global marketplace, is beyond comparison. To remain competitive globally, U.S. companies need to be nimble to these demand changes. That means digging deeper into analytics, modeling potential inputs and outputs, and finding reliable logistics service providers that can facilitate new relationships and provide cover in growing global markets.

With so much uncertainty in today's world, businesses have to find new ways to increase flexibility, resiliency, and responsiveness without compromising economy, speed, and service. That's no small task, especially considering business inertia. To learn more about managing global logistics, Inbound Logistics Senior Writer Joe O'Reilly spent the past 20 months on the ground in 20 countries—Canada, Brazil, China, Hong Kong, India, Panama, Germany, Italy, United Arab Emirates, Chile, Poland, and Belgium, among others—meeting with companies, touring facilities, and researching global markets and emerging supply chain trends.

How did he accomplish that? Joe took part in Georgia Tech's Executive Masters in International Logistics and Supply Chain Management (EMIL) class of 2015. EMIL is a post-graduate program featuring five two-week residencies across four continents. It's designed to help practitioners better understand how cultural dynamics and supply chain best practices intersect through immersion study.

Joe tapped this experience for his contributions to our Global Logistics issue. Sharing best practices across logistics functions, industries, and borders, is integral to IL's demand-driven logistics mission. As you read this issue—take special note of our 11th-annual Global Logistics Guide—consider the different market forces and internal organizational mandates that are guiding your company's global decision-making. Where are you today? Better yet, where can your supply chain take your business tomorrow?