It’s nearly impossible to turn on the news or check social media and not hear or see any mention of the global supply chain. As we enter a new year, there are still many challenges the industry continues to work through. Despite the challenges, there are many opportunities for growth and improvement. Here is a look at how recent events and trends are likely to impact the supply chain in 2022 and beyond.
Increasing consumer demand
With people spending more time at home, many are embracing e-commerce, and it’s likely to remain dominant for many years to come. With the convenience of online shopping, consumers are also looking for fast shipping and free returns, putting a lot of pressure on retailers to deliver fast and at a low cost. Additionally, to keep up with demand, many companies have implemented new methods such as online ordering, curbside or in-store pickup and more.
Another challenge with demand is labor shortages caused by the pandemic. Labor shortages aren’t just affecting in-store employees, but also truck drivers, port associates, rail workers, maintenance technicians, manufacturing positions and more. Companies of all sizes are finding ways to keep up with demand without the labor, including new forms of automation, reducing product offerings, extending ship times and new recruiting tactics.
Seasonal stress and holiday returns
Due to supply chain challenges, manufacturers and shippers had to make difficult decisions about product offerings during the holiday season. In many cases, consumers did not have the variety of choices they are used to because of low inventory and shipping timeframes. We also saw discontinued items that may have been highly labor intensive for companies facing labor shortages. Now, consumers are faced with products they don’t really want or that didn’t arrive in time for the holidays. As this brings opportunities and challenges to the transportation and logistics industry, it’s vital to have systems and tools in place to adjust to the changing environment of the marketplace.
One of the biggest challenges managing the supply chain right now is information, and it’s important to close the information and timing gap in the supply chain. There is also a huge opportunity for new technical solutions to better analyze the massive amounts of data coming from many sources. Being able to adjust operations and processes in real time, or automatically, based on this data will allow the supply chain to be more flexible and adaptable.
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