The Top Supply Chain Companies in 2018

Supply Chain Trends | November 21st, 2018

A recent report by the advisory company Gartner listed the Top 25 companies in the supply chain industry and offered an analysis of the industry’s current state.

Released in May, the 14th annual report from the company included an impressive group of leaders with valuable lessons to share, including three recent entrants from the life sciences, retail and shopper products sectors.

In looking back at 2017, Gartner pointed out a year of solid growth, despite inflammatory trade rhetoric. Looking ahead to the remainder of 2018, the advisory company said protectionism is expanding in reaction to announcements by the U.S., UK and others. This has led many companies to reassess the location strategy for their supply networks.

Gartner officials also said they noticed robust growth restricting available supply in many regions, boosting costs for logistics and labor. The most innovative supply chains are actively managing these risks, however, and have carried on posting good performances.

The Top 25

Based on a number of metrics, Unilever nabbed Gartner’s top spot for the third consecutive year. Rounding out the rest of the top ten were Inditex, Cisco Systems, Colgate-Palmolive, Intel, Nike, Nestle, PepsiCo, H&M and Starbucks.

Report authors said Unilever has a powerful supply chain brand, as indicated by its top score in an opinion poll they conducted. Unilever also scored a perfect 10 for corporate social responsibility. The Dutch company is investing heavily in the digitization of its supply chain. A major initiative is automation supporting the order-to-cash system. Its more than 20 ‘bots’ have automated hundreds of operations, and there are plans to automate hundreds more.

In addition to the Top 25 list, the report included a “Masters” category, as it has since 2015, to recognize supply chain leadership over the last decade.

Report insights

The report is also meant to provide a platform for insights, understanding, debate and contributions to the rising impact of supply chain practices on the worldwide economy. This year’s edition picked out three major trends that stood out among supply chain leaders, focusing on customer experience, scaling digital supply chain abilities and transitioning to circular supply chain designs.

Gartner said businesses see their customers are heavily impacted by their supply chain experience. Many leading supply chains are using digital contacts with customers to learn more about their use of products, forecast future demand and more swiftly react to issues, even before they show up.

Top supply chain businesses are also scaling the most practical digital solutions in factories, shipping facilities and corporate offices. While automation is typically associated with manufacturing and logistics, there has also been a rise in digital customer service, such as the use of natural-sounding artificial intelligence chatbots.

Top supply chain businesses have altered their mindset with regards to sustainability. Advanced supply chains now take a life-cycle-oriented look at their products and operations across the value chain.

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