Globalization has become an undeniable part of commerce over the last few decades, as large companies have grown first to source labor and parts from developing regions, and then to start selling in those same areas as they grew in wealth and buying power. Supply chains have had to keep in step, passing through numerous countries to obtain goods most efficiently and cost-effectively, and growing more complex as a result. And on the other end, the supply chain grows more frayed in order to deliver to countless countries for consumption. For the largest companies, managing a supply chain can require dedicated teams in every area the chain touches. It’s safe to say that supply chain management is both an art and science whereas smaller or mid-sized companies may outsource their supply chain and warehousing management part to a company like Envision Exim Logistics who are pioneers in managing their business in an efficient way.


As the name implies, supply chain management (SCM) is handling and optimizing all the many complicated facets of a supply chain, involving goods and services. Even ensuring timely handoff from manufacturer to shipper to supplier to shipper to buyer is a massive task, but to do it cost-effectively and build net value is truly a challenge.

Supply chain management is so important because modern commerce exists in a networked global economy. Most businesses are specialized – even department and big box stores are only really equipped to sell to customers, despite their wide variety of products. The value of vertical integration is hard to justify when communication costs and SCM tools are so inexpensive – it almost always makes more sense to outsource for price efficiency.


The concept of supply chain management was in effect long before the term was created in 1982. In the colonial era, international trade by ship was already making for complicated transportation issues and the need for efficiency. During the Industrial Revolution, the ability to quickly produce goods with machine assistance led to the need to manage significant inventory and constant consumption. By the time history arrives at Henry Ford’s famous assembly line for the world’s first car production in 1913, supply chain management had become an art.

As the century wore on, more companies were producing more goods and looking for ways to reduce costs. The vertically integrated into owned supply chains to try reducing costs at each stage. In the 1980s and on, globalization became a realistic dream for many companies, because of computer systems, easier communication, and commerce-friendly trade laws. Around the 1990s, it became a common practice for firms to specialize, and focus on core competencies and outsourcing the rest, abandoning the vertical integration of the previous era. At this point, supply chains became truly complex, in order to coordinate hundreds of otherwise unrelated and geographically-distant manufacturers, suppliers, shippers, warehouses, and retailers.

Now, in the “SCM 2.0” era, the Internet and new methodologies have led to collaborative platforms and democratized processes. This is allowing smaller competitors to use some of the same manufacturers as major players and reducing inefficiencies for those manufacturers as a result. Better communication and planning tools are providing a way for small and large companies alike to manage even more complex supply chains.

Variants of SCM

Global SCM: The combination of global manufacturing with supply chain management, which must account for tariffs and local taxes as goods and services travel internationally to ultimately provide greater value at the end of the chain.

SAP SCM: Systems, Applications, and Products (SAP) is a software company that revolutionized logistics and enterprise resource planning. It provides an automated way to manage supply chain networking, supply chain planning, and supply chain execution, along with production planning, business forecasting, and demand planning.

The Basics of Supply Chain Management Processes which we follow:-

There are key supply chain processes that we must take into consideration to effectively understand and manage them. These processes are all at play regardless of the type of supply chain we are using.

Customer relationship management (CRM) comes first, because as the principles of SCM state, we adapt everything in the supply chain to the customer. If no one is buying, there’s no need to produce anything. At the front of your supply chain, where a store’s staff interacts with its consumers, they must have plans in place for ongoing relationships. They need CRM tools to gather customer information for marketing and market research, all to determine the products and services to offer in the future.

Customer service management is another process that ties in, as it is where you gather negative and positive feedback to determine future needs.

Demand management is closely linked with the previous two, as it takes customer interactions and orders into account to determine the workload all the way up the supply chain. At its core, customers buying more means make more, and customers buying less means make less. Customer forecasting is an important task that analysts must perform well to determine the current demand and what it will be in the future, to prevent waste in the supply chain.
Product development is an important part of the supply chain that is informed by consumer demand. You must work with CRM and customer service data to determine what they want, which influences new products, process because it affects cost, quality, and delivery time.product line extensions, and also what to stop making. You must integrate suppliers in this

Supplier relationship management goes without saying – if you want to produce your products on time and on budget, you need a solid rapport with everyone you’re outsourcing to in the chain. This impacts manufacturing flow management, which ensures everything gets where it needs to go without delay, and at the correct spec.

Order fulfilment involves coordinating with distribution centers and either retail locations or 3PL to get the product direct to consumers. You’ve now made it all the way back to the beginning of the cycle, and need to pay attention to new CRM and customer service data.

Returns management, also known as the “reverse supply chain,” is a vital part of the flow of products that doesn’t fit perfectly into the clean supply chain cycle. It involves picking up online orders from 3PL locations or from consumers’ addresses and accepting returns at retail locations. Once these items are put back into inventory, they must be ready to get to a different customer while the product run is still live.

Logistics and SCM: The art of coordinating efforts between every member of the supply chain to get products from their source to the consumer.

Purchasing and SCM: The focus on the monetary aspect of SCM, from costs to value added at each link in the supply chain.


The Future of Supply Chain Management

Aside from the issues of the day, it’s also vital to see where the field is going. The future of SCM is bright, but certainly evolving. We asked a group of experts and innovators in supply chain management to discuss what they believe the future of SCM holds:

Jake Rheude, Director of Business Development and Marketing for Red Stag Fulfilment

Over the next decade, we will see massive and disruptive forms of innovation both in terms of technology that expedites the speed at which customers receive their products (drone delivery) as well as technologies that drastically enhances the online shopping experience for customers, (virtual reality).

While these and other technologies no doubt have the opportunity to significantly change the landscape of online shopping and the supply chain, I expect we will see firms diverge on two different strategies. Some will rush to implement these costly new technologies in order to drive down the total time between an order being placed and last-mile delivery, while other firms will stand by the current landscape (for most B2C online sellers) of product delivery in approximately two-days, acting cautiously, particularly in regards to the cost of these new technologies versus their impact on the overall value chain for consumers.

Certainly, there are niche industries where significant investments in drone delivery technology will provide a distinct competitive advantage, but I predict that for many B2C online sellers, the impact on the overall value chain of these new technologies will be misaligned with a consumer’s perception of value, and therefore make the initial cost of these new technologies unjustified.

Lauren Stafford, Digital Publishing Specialist for Explore WMS

The future of the multi-modal SCM depends on successful integration with data and systems to achieve synchromodality. To achieve this, there needs to be a connection to all available transport modalities in the form of a real-time data flow. Once any issues with connectivity are addressed, a ranking system is required to consider a variety of variables such as dock schedules and material restrictions. Pricing data is another integral component.

The great advantage of a synchromodal platform is that it’s informed by every available option and makes a selection based on key factors like speed requirements. There is still significant work to be done in terms of how best to access and integrate a supply chain partner’s real-time data but, as these platforms are developed, we’re likely to see faster order processing times for large shipments and systems which can help generate a better ROI. The way we understand it, SCM is changing because now an efficient supply chain can be a competitive asset as opposed to a cost center.