Delays, congestions, higher freight rates—these are the outcomes of the COVID-19 supply chain disruptions we experienced in 2020. Now as we’re already into the first quarter of 2021, we continue to experience disruptions and operational constraints. With no end in sight, the pandemic’s effect on the global supply chain is still widely unknown, and conditions continue to unravel.
What we do know about these disruptions is that businesses were all impacted. But there are differences within businesses and between industries. For example, eCommerce activity increased dramatically. Consumers turned to online shopping for essential items. However, consumer good purchases experienced a downturn.
Operational observations into 2021
Based on what we observed from an operational standpoint and how we envision things shaking out as we navigate 2021, here are a few observations that seem certain for shippers and vendors.
1. Increased selectivity
Vendors will be more selective about who they agree to work with and on what terms. Becoming a shipper of choice will be more important than ever. Capacity will continue to decrease and rates will increase for vendors that don’t have solid shipping relationships.
Overall, there will be less bidding out of freight and services and fewer RFPs to solicit bids from multiple providers. Instead, businesses will focus on partnerships with strategic providers and working toward long-term value and gains.
2. Identifying vulnerabilities and weaknesses
End users will chase down vulnerabilities and weaknesses in their supply chains. The pandemic forced manufacturers and distributors to face the challenges of conducting business without an on-site workforce. We saw grocery stores and outlets that had little to no product to stock, and empty shelves were met with panic and confusion.
Organizations don’t want this to happen again and are working to identify these vulnerabilities and weaknesses to initiate plans for mitigation. Companies are working hard to ensure processes are secure and they have a business continuity plan that addresses these concerns.
3. Adapting service offerings
Companies adapted their service offerings to meet the current demand for delivering medical supplies, and this trend will continue. The refrigerated logistics sector should see a major haul and innovation to accommodate efforts to move medical supplies. They are integral in the push to successfully move and transport vaccines to major cities and to rural areas as the new administration moves full-speed ahead on making vaccines available to as many as possible.
Technology needs will continue to trend upward and the reliance on technology will become stronger. While the tech revolution isn’t new, it’s happening everywhere and continuing to gain prominence as technology helps streamline and support business efficiency. Businesses with robust information capabilities, drivers, and insights will have a competitive advantage in everything from automation to data analytics.
While we may not fully reach that post-COVID era in 2021, we will continue to learn how much and how deeply supply chains and businesses were disrupted. Businesses will continue to adjust, adapt, and move forward by learning from their mistakes and leveraging lessons learned.
Have disruptions in the supply chain impacted your business? Contact us today and let’s discuss ways Victory Supply Chain can help!