Supply Chains in the Post COVID Era
This is a guest post by Lucas Parker.
The COVID-19 pandemic has taken the world by storm, surprising everyone and shaking the very foundation of our public health consciousness. Our health isn’t the only thing impacted by the novel virus, so are our daily lives and the economy as a whole. The road to recovery is still very uncertain.
The severity of this pandemic’s global economic damage is still largely unknown, yet we mustn’t let it get the best of us. If there ever was a time for an urgent change of our perception of global supply chain and sustainable development, it is now or never.
Survival of the Fittest
Businesses that are still not ready to take the leap forward will surely be the first ones to be engulfed by the plethora of supply chain management problems.
This is a time of great challenge, and implementing technological advancements to your supply management strategy will not only help your business survive but also thrive when we leave this disaster behind us.
Let us take a look at all the disruptions that are causing issues to our understanding of the supply chain, and propose a solution on how to mitigate the crisis.
The Stopping Point of Globalization
At its most basic, globalization simply means the long-term trend towards greater interpenetration and interdependence of the world’s economies. For decades, the trend of globalization was growing exponentially, and a fully intertwined world economy was deemed inevitable. That is, until the global pandemic struck down the world’s supply chain.
The impact of global outsourcing from countries such as China and India has already taken its toll across the manufacturing industries. In the post-COVID future, it’s entirely expected that a large number of industries shift back to regional sourcing, eliminating single-source dependencies.
Given the incredibly versatile number of goods required, a return to regional supply chains presents an incredibly complex challenge. However, that challenge might be a necessary step worth taking in the post-COVID world.
The Rise of Automation Technologies Adoption
Rapid implementation of automation technologies for supply chain management could bring back the North American manufacturing industry within its borders. In order to stay competitive with the large net exporting countries, automation technologies must lower the labor cost and increase production efficiency, thus increasing the relative manufacturing output.
Better end-to-end visibility of the supply chain is needed in order to provide more control, quality communication, and increased agility to change of demands, all while resolving issues proactively. Having larger control over the supply chain allows for the most efficient use of resources and better management of customer expectations.
The initial cost of automation may appear high, but when properly implemented, these solutions can help a variety of different industries cut costs and improve productivity. Automation solutions range from the novel (AI, IoT, Machine Learning, Blockchain) to long-established and trusted automated conveyor systems, depending on a business’s investing capabilities and particular needs.
Drastic Changes in Demand
The Coronavirus outbreak has caused a significant change in the supply-demand for certain products and services. In the initial phase of the outbreak, consumers rushed to the stores to stock up on essential goods, causing a massive spike in demand for stable food items.
Technological advancements and a larger initiative for digital transformation is the key to a more competitive, sustainable growth in the post-COVID era. Businesses that fulfill the customers’ demands in a timely matter may have a better chance to emerge as a winner from this drastic change.
In order for businesses to meet the changes in demand in a more agile manner, a better overall supply chain visibility is needed. Commitment to digital transformation should be a top priority for businesses that want to speed up their response to demands, migrating their businesses online to cloud platforms and in the eCommerce realm.
The Rise in Importance of the e-Commerce Channel
Buyer habits have changed tremendously. Some recent statistics confirmed that US retail sales fell by about 8.7%. This is even worse decline than the financial crisis in 2009. On the opposite side, eCommerce sales grew by about 25%.
Understanding changes in customer shopping patterns and knowing which categories to offer plays the most important role. COVID-19 can be compared to a shot of adrenaline for the supply chain industry and eCommerce.
It is all linked in one great chain. COVID-19 sped up the shift to eCommerce; eCommerce made a higher demand for smaller yet urban warehouses – and it is not stopping there. The pandemic showcased us the worst-case scenario and the best we can do is to learn … and try to earn from it. Even buying groceries is shifting to online shopping, which is a demanding task for the supply chain.
Having flexible fulfillment is important, and providing your customers with accurate information and transparency should be a top priority. The goal is to come closer to traditional sales through omnichannels – and the supply chain is the missing link there.
The conclusion is simple: we just can’t stop this tide that keeps flooding. Instead, improve your swimming skills. The pandemic just uncovered everything happening behind the curtain – all the flaws, weaknesses, and complexities of supply chain are now in the spotlight.
Businesses that are not willing to keep up the pace with the rapidly changing business world may suffer under COVID as much as people’s health. Planning ahead is the key. Things may never return to their former state. If there ever was a time to future-proof your supply chain, it is right now.
This was a guest post by Lucas Parker.
Lucas Parker is a business consultant from Sydney, Australia and editor-in-chief at savingforserenity.com. He has a great passion for writing as well and contributes articles regularly at websites like e-architect.co.uk, smallbizdaily.com, valuewalk.com, talk-business.co.uk, and many more.