The start of the Chinese Lunar Year of the Monkey, on Feb. 8, may have gone largely unnoticed, but it's beginning to look as if this monkey year will see more supply chain changes than any of the last 50. Monkeys are by nature intellectual and creative, but often have trouble demonstrating these qualities. That can make them seem confused. Nothing could be further from the truth, however.
You need look no further than Amazon.com for an example of that. Amazon, which seems to be entering many logistics businesses, is behaving much like the monkey—appearing to be confused about its business model, but whatever it is, pursuing it with a vengeance. If you're like me, you are growing a little tired of reading about Amazon, quadcopters, etc. If you're in the retail business, however, you have more than a passing interest. Major retailers such as Target are getting serious about mounting Amazon-competitive attacks by investing more resources in their supply chains. Target has announced spending initiatives for technology and supply chain of as much as $2.5 billion annually by 2017 and has hired an Amazon executive to head up its supply chain effort. Walmart has set similar goals.
But let's not forget that Amazon is hardly the only game in town. There are plenty of non-Amazon-related supply chain developments under way. What follows are some observations on a few of these developments and their potential to change the way we ply our trade:
No discussion of monkeys would be complete without some mention of the election process we are experiencing currently; but alas, this is not a political column, and I will refrain from comment. 2016 actually is a "fire monkey" year, and fire monkeys are intelligent and intuitive. They also excel at both setting goals and meeting them. This year, we would do well to stay alert and follow their lead.