Top 25 Supply Chains of 2018

Our look at the Top 25 (plus 4) Supply Chains of 2018 examines how the best companies in the world excel at managing their global supply chains.

One of the most popular articles we’ve ever done is our look at analyst group Gartner’s annual ranking of the Top 25 Supply Chains. Although it sometimes seems like the exact same companies show up on the list from year to year, there actually is a lot of movement up and down the rankings, and as some companies move onto the list so too do some fall off.

Admittedly, the ranking is pretty much a beauty contest, since Gartner’s own analysts have the most input into which companies are chosen. The rankings are based on a composite score based on the opinions of Gartner’s analysts; a group of peer voters (mostly supply chain practitioners, professionals and experts; in the interests of full disclosure, I myself am part of the peer panel); some metrics, including return on assets, inventory growth and revenue growth; and a corporate social responsibility (CSR) component score.

A few words about the CSR score, since it doesn’t necessarily reflect the reality of global supply chain management, i.e., sometimes companies talk a great game about their sustainability, environmental and human rights efforts, but just because a company gets a perfect score of 10 from Gartner doesn’t mean that company isn’t also under fire from various NGOs for their less-than-perfect real-world business practices. So the CSR score too is more of a popularity contest than a consistent metric.

One thing to keep in mind about who qualifies for consideration is that only big public companies are included in the rankings, and by “big” we mean they need to have sales of $12 billion or more. In other words, these companies are all multinational giants in their respective verticals.

Also, for whatever reason, Gartner limits the scope of the Top 25 to companies in the manufacturing, retail or distribution sectors. So some of the companies that actually are in the forefront of supply chain management and technology implementations are excluded from contention: airlines, railroads, trucking companies, package delivery companies, shipping companies, construction firms, healthcare, metals producers, energy companies, banks, oil & gas, pipelines, utilities, and more.

Nevertheless, what makes the Top 25 so compelling, year after year, is the focus on the specific supply chain proficiencies of more than two dozen well-known brands, as well as an acknowledgment that these companies’ success depends very largely on their supply chain proficiency.

As in years past, Gartner has shifted a few of the very best supply chains out of the Top 25 list, presumably to make it possible to include a few new names in the rankings from year to year. So in 2018, McDonald’s joins Apple, Procter & Gamble and Amazon on a separate “Masters” list, as one of the “best-of-the-best.”

The slideshow that follows, then, is our coverage of Gartner’s rankings, which includes both comments from Gartner’s analysts as well as our own analysis, based on independent reporting. In the "Related" section immediately below, you’ll also find links to our analyses of previous years’ rankings.

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