What happens when you are recognized for seven straight years as having the world's best supply chain? The answer, at least according to the analyst group Gartner, is that you achieve a kind of supply chain nirvana and graduate into a special "Masters" category.
For the past 11 years, first AMR Research Inc. (which was sold to Gartner in 2009), and then Gartner has released a list of the top 25 global supply chain leaders. The rankings are based on three components: publicly available financial data; Gartner analysts' opinions; and feedback from a peer opinion panel, which comprises supply chain professionals across manufacturing and retail businesses. Based on this data, the consumer electronics company Apple Inc. claimed the top spot on the list every year from 2008 to 2014.
This year, in recognition of Apple's dominance, Gartner placed it an elite "Masters" category. Companies qualify as Masters if their composite score places them in the top five rankings for at least seven out of the past 10 years. Joining Apple in this special category is consumer products company Procter & Gamble. According to Gartner's research report on the Top 25, Apple belongs in this category because "it takes skill and, in some cases, sheer will to orchestrate the design, development, and high-volume launch of highly integrated products across a network of hardware, software, manufacturing, and logistics suppliers." Procter & Gamble, for its part, has a long history of innovative supply chain practices, which continue today with its new "integrated" initiatives focused on new product development and launch and on manufacturing, Gartner said.
The Masters category also allows Gartner to use the Top 25 to highlight some other supply chain leaders. This year, e-commerce giant Amazon captured the top spot in recognition of its innovative efforts in such areas as same-day delivery, drone delivery, and instant ordering devices like Amazon Dash. Rounding out the top five are McDonald's, Unilever, Intel, and Spanish retailer Inditex, the owner of eight brands including Zara.
Here are Gartner's picks for the 10 best supply chains:
The entire list (as well as honorable mentions)—and a full report detailing the research methodology, leading companies, and emerging trends—can be accessed for free here.