The Top 6 Supply Chain Trends in the Year of COVID-19

The Top 6 Supply Chain Trends in the Year of COVID-19After a year dominated by a pandemic, many of the anticipated trends heading into 2020 have been reconsidered—here are 6 to be mindful of going forward.

The supply chain has experienced more disruption and subsequent evolution than any time in recent history. As a result of COVID-19, companies have had to reevaluate the state of their supply chains and make the necessary adjustments to make them thrive in a time of great uncertainty. What that means is that many expectations as to the state of supply chains this year have had to have been thrown out and replaced. And, while certain shifts in the supply chain have been long anticipated, they nonetheless require reexamining for how they’ve unfolded.

This article by Morai Logistics presents 6 of the most prominent trends in supply chain today.

Agility is More Important Than Ever

As important as forecasting is, it’s agility that’s gained greater attention over the course of this year. If this pandemic has demonstrated anything, it’s that supply chains can’t always anticipate the market. With that being the case, it’s critical that supply chains be agile (and flexible) enough to respond quickly to fluctuating demands.

Blockchain Gains Traction

Blockchain has been a technology that for years has gained attention and displayed promise. Yet, despite that being the case, reservations around its viability have remained and adoption rates have remained low. While the pandemic hasn’t radically changed that, it has once again highlighted the value (specifically, transparency and security) of the technology. As such, it has garnered renewed interest.

Sustainability is a Must

The demand for sustainability has been building for many years. COVID-19 has done little to dampen that demand. Simply put, sustainability within the supply chain is quickly becoming something that is no longer optional.

An article from Manufacturing.net expounds,

For example, 66 percent of millennials are more likely to patronize a company with sustainable and eco-friendly culture. Furthermore, brands that advocate for sustainability grow 5.6 times faster than brands that don’t.

Big Data Remains Critical

Supply chains need to be intelligent to succeed. As self evident as that is, the route to intelligence is multifaceted. One key facet is data. Data is the lifeblood of intelligence. Thus, the more data a supply chain has to work with (given the right tools), the more precise it can be with its intelligence. That precise intelligence, in turn, helps combat the many disruptions that supply chains might face.

AI Continues its Ascent

Tied closely to big data is artificial intelligence and its subsets (such as machine learning). Another critical component of an intelligent supply chain is having the right tools in place to utilize data. No tool is quite as robust and varied as AI. From forecasting to automation, its uses are as wide as they are advantageous.

The previously mentioned Manufacturing.net post explains,

By 2019 end, 37 percent of organizations had implemented AI, and in 2020 the numbers are poised to grow. Businesses that make use of AI technology in their supply chain have seen improvements. Such improvements include inventory management, staff productivity, supplier selection process, and customer experience.

Omnichannel is the new Standard

Finally, given the impact the pandemic has had on physical patronage, the need for omnichannel fulfillment has only increased.  What’s more, at this point, quality customer experience is nearly synonymous with omnichannel service. Customers desire seamless service, where what’s physical and digital no longer need to be clearly distinguished. This is even more so the case with the onset COVID-19. It’ driving an unprecedented number of customers online, with physical interactions having been reduced to a minimum.

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