It's safe to say the supply chain has an impact on nearly every industry, and as a result of this, has an influence on many of us on a daily basis, even when we don't realise it. In every sector, including retail, agriculture, technology and automotive, the supply chain forms the crux of a business; it drives efficiency, profitability and can really give them the edge over their competitors if they do it well.
The supply chain process can begin as early as the extraction of raw materials for a commodity, and continue all the way to that product arriving on a consumer's doorstep, and sometimes even further. The sequences that make up a supply chain, which often produce the commodity companies want to sell, makes it an extremely crucial process, and one that is constantly being reviewed to be made quicker, safer, more environmentally friendly and efficient.
The continuous development of technology means that the supply chain is constantly evolving as companies attempt to make their processes better. With this growth not on track to stop, it is becoming increasingly important for companies to be able to invest in their systems to keep up with their markets and customer demand.
Vero Solutions has analysed Gartner's annual list of the best supply chains over the last decade to find out which companies and industries are leading the way. The data shows some of the world's most famous and successful companies take position in the top 10 - and this arguably comes as no surprise due to their size and profitability, which allows them to invest in the latest developments and become the world's supply chain champions.
Unilever takes top spot as the best supply chain in 2018, a position it has kept since 2016. The British-Dutch transnational consumer goods company has ranked in the top 25 supply chains since 2009, however did not reach the top 10 until 2013 where it ranked 10th. Since then, Unilever jumped to fourth and third for a few years before reaching first place over the last couple of years. Whether it's food, drink, or toiletries, we all know one of Unilever's brands, from Dove and Persil to Magnum and Hellman's. In fact, in the UK they are present in 98% of households and, globally, their products are used by 2 billion people each and every day. The scale of this company's products is immense, and therefore relies on a supply chain that is nothing less than the best.
When looking at the last ten years of the best supply chains, Apple and P&G both dominated the lists, with Apple ranking in top place from 2008 until 2014 and P&G consistently in the top 10 also in these years. The brilliance of the supply chains in both of these companies was recognised further in 2015, where both companies were given the title 'Supply Chain Masters', taking them off the future rankings as a result. In 2018, McDonald's was also given the title of 'Supply Chain Master', having featured in the rankings since 2011.
When comparing the 2018 list to 2008, it is only Cisco Systems, a multinational technology company based in San Jose, California left standing, making it the most consistent supply chain in the rankings. Positioned at second place back in 2008, Nokia dropped off the list entirely after 2009, and the same happened to Toyota Motor.
The industries leading the way in the supply chain have also evolved. The top 10 2008 companies were dominated by the technology industry, with the top three supply chains being Apple, Nokia and Dell. IBM, Cisco Systems and Samsung Electronics also featured in the top 10 list. Going forward a decade and the difference in industry is significant, as both the food and drinks, and the retail industry take up most of the leaderboard, with the likes of Inditex, Nike, Nestle, PepsiCo, H&M and Starbucks featuring in the top 10.
With so much that has changed over the last decade, who will be the supply chain champions by 2030?