Gartner’s list of top supply chain companies offers a platform for insights, learning, debate, and contributions around the growing influence of supply chain practices on the world’s economy.
Each year, Gartner shares the results of their annual ranking of the list Top 25 Supply Chains winners. 2017’s top supply chain companies were announced during the Gartner Supply Chain Executive Conference.
“2017 marks the 13th year of our annual Supply Chain Top 25 ranking. This year we have an impressive group of leaders with new lessons to share, including two more recent entrants from the high-tech and consumer product sectors,” explained Gartner’s Research Vice President, Stan Aronow.
“Despite some striking performances, however, today’s supply chain leaders face a much different business environment than just 12 months ago,” Aronow continued.
“A general trend toward protectionism, as evidenced by Brexit and the policies of the current U.S. administration, has caused some companies to shift supply network design decisions and create contingency plans in anticipation of new trade policies. Continued investment in innovative supply chain capabilities will be required to meet this changing landscape.”Top Supply Chain Companies: Masters
Gartner introduced the “Masters” category two years ago to better highlight longstanding leadership by supply chain leaders Amazon, Apple, and P&G.
Amazon is now firmly rooted in both e-commerce and brick and mortar worlds, but after the $13.7 billion purchase of Whole Foods, it’s difficult to guess where the future of retail supply chain will go next.
As Gartner analysts noted, “Hardly a day goes by without another announcement of Amazon’s foray into a new market, ownership of its own logistics capabilities, or filing of patents to improve customer experience.”
It’s not tough to see why Amazon was bumped from the Top 25 list to the Masters.
Meanwhile, Apple only continues to grow its supply chain to support the creation of new forms of technology each and every year. From connected/autonomous vehicle technology to augmented reality, this tech titan is on the front lines of the future.
P&G’s innovations in terms of automation of workflows and algorithm-driven tools to reduce exceptions, which enables end-to-end planning, has pioneered a unique spot within the consumer product space.
Just as it has in the past, Gartner promoted several top supply chains companies off the Top 25 list to make room among the rankings each year. The most riveting aspect of these 25 top supply chain companies is Gartner’s focus on what specific supply chain proficiencies are working for 30 world-class brands.
The 25 Top Supply Chain Companies
Gartner’s list of the 25 top supply chain companies and their Masters category offer a platform for insights, learning, debate, and contributions around the growing influence of global supply chain practices on the world’s economy. The following are Gartner’s 25 top supply chain companies:
Due to high opinion polling and a perfect 10 on the corporate social responsibility component of the scoring, Unilever is at the top of the ranks. Unilever’s Sustainable Living Plan is one of the most widely recognized, comprehensive corporate environmental initiatives out there today.
From a logistics perspective, Unilever’s migration from a point-to-point network to a courier-type approach has pioneered an innovative means to consolidate the movement of all goods via nine European hubs.
How on Earth can one effectively manage the largest restaurant supply chain in the world?
“McDonald’s is a classic example of how smaller teams at brand owners can manage large-scale transformation across outsourced vendors, suppliers, corporate stores, and external customers. It governs through the use of multi-enterprise councils and well-defined performance management expectations,” Gartner noted.
The Spanish “fast-fashion” retailer—best known for Zara clothing stores—scored a 10 for corporate social responsibility from Gartner. This company’s supply chain process enables new apparel to be designed and have it hanging on racks in a little more than two weeks. By relying on both online and brick-and-mortar channels, Inditex can also focus improved omnichannel demand planning capabilities to support its growth.
When supply chain proficiency is concerned, this networking equipment giant is old school. Through talent development and management, the company uses technology and upskilling to encourage employees to pursue promotions and new challenging roles. And when energy efficiency and logistics are concerned, Cisco’s efforts are truly paying off.
While this Swedish fast-fashion retailer was awarded a 10 for Gartner CSR scale, industry reports say thousands of claim workers’ deal with unsafe, sweatshop-level conditions throughout Asia. H&M keeps growing operations both online and in brick-and-mortar store locations while adding automation and warehouse optimization tech throughout company distribution centers.
As Gartner highlights, Intel is realigning its supply chain to focus on the production of smaller, more powerful chips. By relying on internally designed planning and optimization tools, Intel can facilitate a step-function increase in network complexity.
Nestlé too scored a perfect 10 on the Gartner corporate social responsibility scale. Gartner underscores Nestlé’s pursuit of technology to bolster supply chain efforts, especially its Internet of Things-based vending machines that can automatically replenish themselves. Their smartphone apps that display the freshness and availability of their products in any store also contributed to their winning supply chain.
Through strong financial performance, focusing on improved sales and operations planning processes, and product lifecycle management capabilities Nike made Gartner’s list of top supply chain companies. Lightweight fabrics and computer design technologies helped the company build upon custom products at scale and eliminating driving waste from manufacturing methods.
Colgate-Palmolive is widely known for its environmental and ethics programs, but still controversial with the unethical treatment of palm plantation workers by some of its suppliers. The consumer goods producer really breaks the mold is with continuous improvement efforts, which are responsible for generating noticeable savings across the board for over 15 years.
Did you know that 99 percent of Starbucks’ beans are ethically sourced? Through the company’s Coffee and Farmer Equity Practices (CAFÉ) program, now sustainability targets are due to the food and beverage giant’s own take on sustainability. With plans to open up to 12,000 more stores—it already manages 20,000 at the moment—Starbucks has ramped up its technology efforts in order to take and fulfill smartphone orders and is reportedly piloting an AI-based voice ordering app.
We’ve covered PepsiCo’s robust sustainability initiatives, but it’s the transparency throughout the company’s supply chain that has improved efficiency in distribution and at the point-of-sale—all while supporting these green goals. PepsiCo now employs digital shelf visibility tools for upgraded forecast accuracy and on-shelf availability.
3M’s worldwide supply chain has recently honed in on regionalizing its supply chains to shorten lead times, harmonizing standard global processes and tools, and accelerating the use of disruptive technologies—robotics and 3-D printing—to speed up innovation. The industrial products manufacturer proudly boasts a workplace culture that encourages experimentation and creativity, too.
Johnson & Johnson
With 250,000 customers—who make 100,000 orders per day on a globally balanced scale— this supply chain team brings to life every product the company makes around the world. That’s over 300,000 SKUs. In order to manufacture, test, and deliver each and every Johnson & Johnson product globally, their winning strategy has become much more technology-focused lately.
The Coca-Cola Co.
One year ago, Coca-Cola sold its U.S. manufacturing and distribution assets in order to better concentrate on producing concentrate rather than bottling or transportation. Through the use of its mobile apps, the beverage leader has accelerated replenishment processes.
Before Apple’s decade-long legacy in first place—back in 2007—Nokia was at the top of Gartner’s top supply chain companies. It had established itself as an undisputed smartphone leader, but today Nokia has reimagined itself as a telecom networking leader. Through the development of a total cost management tool, it has improved track manufacturing costs based on real-time operational data.
Gartner’s analysts had kind words for this chemical conglomerate’s “lighthouse” program. It helps in digitizing the company’s logistics operations through prescriptive analytics to improve strategic planning. That’s not all BASF is using smart data for: analytics are also used to upgrade customer service, risk and cost management, and environmental issues.
If you’re seeking inspiration for workforce development, look no further than automation specialist Schneider Electric’s supply chain programs. Schneider is esteemed for its learning academy, a broad-scoped rotation program that highlights diversity and employee well-being. The company thrives thanks to the use of many digital tools in the supply chain, especially in planning, purchasing analytics, smart factory, and digital customer logistics.
Walmart is the only remaining mass-market retailer that remains in Gartner’s 25 top supply chain companies. But make no mistake, this retail giant’s supply chain is amazing. Walmart is pilot testing blockchain technology on two food items to speed up delivery to stores and reduce spoilage and waste. Its in-store pickup service has expanded and it’s even launched a program to allow store associates to earn additional income through product deliveries. Haven’t heard about Walmart’s Project Gigaton? It aims to encourage suppliers to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by one gigaton—an equivalent of removing over 200 million cars from roads for a year.HP Inc.
Since its 2015 split into two entities, HP Inc. appears in the 25 top supply chain companies list as the PC and printer side of the business. By integrating predictive analytics to forecast how often customers require printer ink, HP has not only upgraded replenishment capabilities but is now enabled to significantly cut inventory buffers.
Through its growing e-commerce business and brick-and-mortar stores, the cosmetics giant is now considered part manufacturer and part retailer. Omni-channel strategies, improvements in inventory optimization, and better supplier visibility are huge initiatives throughout L’Oréal’s supply chain today. The company is also shifting towards distributed order management, integration of marketplaces, and leaner reverse logistics to anticipate larger numbers of e-commerce returns.
This manufacturer of personal care and paper goods thrives thanks to real-time demand data from its customers. Kimberly-Clark is dedicated to its lofty goal of eliminating all waste from landfills.
BMW’s Connected Supply Chain program is vigilant in areas like IT connectivity, AGVs and smart robots, augmented reality, connected vehicle distribution, and sustainability. To better anticipate the production of autonomous vehicles within the next five years, BMW is currently realigning its supply chain.
This UK beverage company first surfaced on this list in 2017, booting GlaxoSmithKline from the lineup. You know their popular spirits brands—Baileys, Guinness, and Johnnie Walker—so Diageo’s win is largely thanks to a creative product assessment technique known as “tramlining”. The term derives from how a vehicle’s wheels follow grooves in a road’s surface, and that’s exactly how Diageo describes tearing down the individual cost of its products and then comparing them to both competitors and internal benchmarks. The technique convinced the company to adopt a new pressure-sensitive label technology that cut costs by about $3 million.
Lenovo’s product line continues to mature, along with its supply chain strategy: product-centric quality metrics to customer-centric quality measures seek to improve overall customer experiences. By utilizing predictive analytics in its SWOT analysis, the company has strengthened its forecast accuracy and reduced excess inventory levels.
This electronics giant took a hard fall from ranking in eighth place last year to nearly being eliminated from Top 25 this year.
Let’s be real, not many companies could survive on the list of Top 25 Supply Chain companies after the U.S. Department of Transportation banned your product from air transportation. (Remember the ill-fated Galaxy Note7 smartphone?) Gartner is looking to the future, however, as Samsung’s new Galaxy S8 smartphones offer spiffy face recognition, iris scanning, and fingerprint scanning capabilities. Indeed, the future looks bright(er) for Samsung.