St. Onge Company Links Supply Chain Blog
Strengthening your supply chain one link at a time.

The 21st Century Supply Chain Innovation

Throughout the history of the US, transformational innovations have greatly improved supply chain efficiencies and customer service.

In the 18th century, the use of flatboats to transport goods down the Ohio and Mississippi rivers to the West-Indies Islands resulted in significant reduced savings and improved speed to market. According to Rinker Buck in his book, “Life on the Mississippi”, It was at least 50% cheaper and four times faster to flow down the river than it was to use the traditional sixty-mile overland route, the muddy wagon roads of Pennsylvania.

In the 19th century, the development of railway systems enabled men like Vanderbilt and Rockefeller become giants of industry while greatly improving transportation efficiencies and ease to market.

The 20th century saw the development of the interstate road system and the invention of the airplane. Both further progressed supply chain efficiency and customer experience.

It can be argued that the 21st centuries’ leap forward is Amazon.  Amazon’s meteoric rise has undoubtedly reshaped the landscape of global commerce, exerting a profound impact on the supply chains of other companies across various industries. With its relentless focus on efficiency, customer-centric approach, and innovative logistics strategies, Amazon has set new standards and forced competitors to adapt or risk being left behind.

One of the most significant effects of Amazon’s growth on other companies’ supply chains is the increased emphasis on speed and convenience. Amazon’s Prime two-day shipping promise has raised consumer expectations for fast delivery, prompting competitors to invest heavily in their own logistics networks to keep pace. As a result, companies have had to streamline their supply chains, optimize inventory management, and explore alternative delivery methods such as same-day or next-day shipping to remain competitive.

Additionally, Amazon’s dominance in e-commerce has compelled traditional brick-and-mortar retailers to reevaluate their supply chain strategies. Many have ramped up their online presence and implemented omnichannel fulfillment models to better serve customers who increasingly prefer the convenience of shopping online. This shift has led to the integration of physical and digital supply chains, with companies investing in technologies like inventory management systems, order routing algorithms, and automated fulfillment centers to meet the demands of an omnichannel world.

Furthermore, Amazon’s extensive product offerings and relentless pursuit of operational efficiency have put pressure on suppliers to adapt to its requirements. Companies that sell through Amazon’s platform must meet strict performance metrics and comply with its packaging and labeling standards. This has forced suppliers to invest in technology and process improvements to enhance their visibility, traceability, and agility within the supply chain.

Amazon’s disruptive impact extends beyond just retailers and suppliers; it has also transformed the logistics industry itself. The company’s investments in robotics, drones, and autonomous vehicles have spurred innovation and automation across the supply chain, driving efficiency gains and cost savings for both Amazon and its competitors. As a result, traditional logistics providers have had to evolve their offerings to stay competitive, adopting technologies like predictive analytics, route optimization, and warehouse automation to meet the evolving demands of the market.

Moreover, Amazon’s growing influence has reshaped consumer behavior and expectations, leading to a shift towards on-demand and personalized experiences. This has created challenges for companies across the supply chain, from manufacturers grappling with shorter product lifecycles to retailers navigating the complexities of demand forecasting and inventory management in an era of heightened volatility and uncertainty.

In response to these challenges, companies have increasingly turned to digitalization and data-driven decision-making to optimize their supply chains. Advanced analytics, machine learning, and artificial intelligence are being leveraged to gain deeper insights into consumer preferences, anticipate demand fluctuations, and optimize inventory levels in real-time. This enables companies to operate more efficiently, minimize risks, and deliver superior customer experiences in an increasingly competitive marketplace.

In conclusion, Amazon’s exponential growth has had a profound impact on other companies’ supply chains, reshaping industry norms, and forcing competitors to adapt or face obsolescence. By setting new standards for speed, convenience, and customer experience, Amazon has spurred innovation, investment, and transformation across the entire supply chain ecosystem, driving the industry towards greater efficiency, agility, and resilience in the face of constant change.
—Dave Wheeler, St. Onge Company

Enter your email to subscribe to "Links":


St. Onge Company is Proud to Have Been Ranked Among the Highest-Scoring Businesses on Inc. Magazine’s Annual List of Best Workplaces for 2023

We have been named to Inc. Magazine’s annual Best Workplaces list! Featured in the May/June 2023 issue, the list is the result of a comprehensive measurement of American companies that have excelled in creating exceptional workplaces and company culture, whether operating in a physical or a virtual facility.

From thousands of entries, we are one of only 591 companies honored.

Click here to see our listing!