Executive Briefings

Are Product Flows, Distribution in U.S. About to Be Radically Altered?

Remember the early days of cell phones when a new model seemed to appear every week and each one looked dramatically different? This is typical of a new product market. Initially, wildly different variants are released and tested in the market, but eventually they converge on a common core set of features. That is, a dominant design emerges from the pack that becomes the de facto standard.   Is a similar process redefining logistics in the US?

In the early days of the bicycle, for example, there were many different designs from machines with no pedals to the famous Penny Farthing configuration. The basic format that we are familiar with today eventually gained the upper hand.

The dominant design is not necessarily the best for all situations, but rather it is the one that satisfies the majority of users.

It seems that the logistics market has followed a similar evolutionary path in terms of distributing manufactured products in the U.S. The big question is whether this current dominant design for distribution will be disrupted. This is the question that the MIT FreightLab is looking at as part of our continuing research on the future shape of supply chains and logistics services.

Our initial work has identified four macro trends that could fundamentally alter product flows, and hence unseat this broadly accepted pattern of distribution.

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Keywords: supply chain management, supply chain, logistics & supply chain, supply chain planning, logistics management, product distribution

In the early days of the bicycle, for example, there were many different designs from machines with no pedals to the famous Penny Farthing configuration. The basic format that we are familiar with today eventually gained the upper hand.

The dominant design is not necessarily the best for all situations, but rather it is the one that satisfies the majority of users.

It seems that the logistics market has followed a similar evolutionary path in terms of distributing manufactured products in the U.S. The big question is whether this current dominant design for distribution will be disrupted. This is the question that the MIT FreightLab is looking at as part of our continuing research on the future shape of supply chains and logistics services.

Our initial work has identified four macro trends that could fundamentally alter product flows, and hence unseat this broadly accepted pattern of distribution.

Read Full Article


Keywords: supply chain management, supply chain, logistics & supply chain, supply chain planning, logistics management, product distribution