The COVID-19 pandemic exposed supply chain vulnerabilities across the board. These vulnerabilities are even more apparent for businesses that showed signs of weaknesses pre-pandemic. When business returns to some level of normalcy after the pandemic is controlled, the global economy will forever be impacted. The new normal will ultimately reveal the long-term implications on the global supply chain.
Supply chain leaders across all industries are still studying this effect. They’re making strides to maintain supply chain health during this historic time, even though it’s an uphill battle. But the overarching sentiment is ‘don’t give up.’ Your supply chain can still be nursed back to health.
The first step on the road to recovery is identifying the impact of the pandemic on your supply chain. How is your business feeling the effects?
Here are three of the primary ways we’ve seen supply chains being impacted—and what those impacts might look like in the future.
Capacity Predictability Challenges
As essential items ebb and flow, supply chain limitations and availability are continuously changing. At the beginning of the pandemic when people began stockpiling commodity items—toilet paper, for example—it created a spike in supply and demand. While retailers saw the demand go flat again in the summer months, as we enter the next phase of the pandemic, another spike is imminent.
During periods of high demand, businesses may face capacity issues if they don’t have well-established relationships with their carriers. We always ask the question, “Are you the shipper of choice?” The answer to this question can help gauge the value of those relationships. Positive relationships with carriers equal higher priority in keeping your product supplied when demand is high.
Shift in Demand
As we discussed in a previous post, changes in retail commerce have shifted traditional B2B supply chains to small at-home deliveries, and ecommerce is expected to continue growing. Some leaders are seeing extreme changes to their business demands. A B2B supplier for distribution sites and warehouses may suddenly see an influx of residential consumers.
However, demand could also decrease as we transition to a more freight-light economy. In the post-pandemic world, there will be a greater focus on services and experiences.
Heightened Focus on Blockchain Technology
Blockchain is becoming an even hotter topic in the supply chain community. Clients want to know where their freight is located and who last touched it, especially when demand is high. This is particularly true for food and pharmaceuticals when freight goes ‘off the radar.’ Chain of command is becoming increasingly important, not only for government oversight, but for the average consumer.
The need for blockchain systems is critical to satisfy the cost-conscious, value-aware CEO. Though clients are playing by the rules of retail giants like Amazon, Walmart, and Target, they don’t want the fees, chargebacks, and additional costs associated with fulfilling their contracts.
What Does the Future Hold?
What we’ve learned from the pandemic is that this won’t be the last disruption in the supply chain. While we don’t know what future disruptions will look like, we can assume they will highlight vulnerabilities.
This isn’t always a bad thing. Identifying supply chain dependencies is the first step in preparing for disruptions. Whether it’s a cyber attack, natural disaster, or global pandemic, your supply chain faces constant risks, but the one tool you have on your side is your plan for managing those risks.
How does your supply chain stack up? Take our test to grade your supply chain and determine your health score. Then schedule some time to chat with us about how we can help improve your supply chain health.