Controlling Your Own Destiny: Why Shippers Must Find Ways to Ensure Supply Chain Resiliency

The challenge with today’s supply chain is that one glitch, at any mile, can impact the entire chain.

It’s a domino effect that seemingly has no end point and trickles all the way down to the consumer level. This challenge has been even more profound during the COVID-19 global pandemic.

In just the last few months, we’ve seen how quickly plant closures, lost warehousing staff, or overwhelming fulfillment requests can slow supply chain movement and reduce the inventory available to consumers. We’ve seen the delay in our own personal deliveries arriving at our front doorsteps. Depending on what the world looks like in the coming year, supply chain disruptions may be a reality the world will continue to contend with for the near future.

How can shippers weather the storm and maintain a semblance of business continuity during periods of such uncertainty?

While there is certainly no one-size-fits-all answer, it is critical that shipping organizations begin to take more control of their own destinies. Effectively implementing a few key business strategies will help shippers secure their supply chain resiliency well into the future.

Localizing the Supply Chain

A global, interconnected supply chain network is invaluable. But a hyperlocal network is, too. Without a hyperlocal supply chain, shippers are more at risk of being directly impacted by uncontrollable global circumstances.

Imagine a U.S.-based retailer with a few major shipping centers across the United States who experiences a COVID outbreak at just one of those centers. If the facility shuts down due to the spread of COVID-19, the shipping company will hit an operational rut when moving inventory, slowing down expected delivery times and damaging the customer experience. It’s a problematic scenario.

A situation like that is a prime example of why it is imperative to also have hyperlocal options and resources to counterbalance impacts felt by other markets. Right now, the entire globe is dealing with COVID-19, but there may be peaks and ebbs in cases that will impact different markets in different ways in the coming year. Companies must optimize what is available locally to route resources locally—it provides a safety net where there was none previously.

Adopting Advanced Technology and Leading to Agility

Technology itself is a value creator in the supply chain, helping shippers have more control over their supply chain by enabling faster deliveries and fulfillment in cost-effective ways. Delivery orchestration technology leverages data and applies business logic to optimize end-to-end delivery and fulfillment processes, giving organizations more visibility and actionable insights into their overall workflows. This technology, alongside integration with delivery providers, will enable shippers to automatically assign the right fleets and vehicles for each type of delivery, or the right staff required for specific services, in real time.

It is critical for shippers to start attaching themselves to the digital transformation curve. Not doing so could result in getting trampled by the competition, who may already be expediting their delivery cycle through technology.

Additionally, the ability to change, enhance, or add services to their existing operations is one of the greatest tools at an organization’s disposal. COVID-19 changed the market and shippers need to be more flexible and adaptable in being able to quickly change direction in the type of services they offer and the products they deliver.

A classic case of this is the recent partnership between Staples and Instacart. The grocery delivery company is adding retail same-day delivery to its service offerings. Shippers today need to find market expansion opportunities like these, which will not require a rebuild of business models and technology. Again, here a delivery orchestration platform will support such expansion as it can be quickly configured to meet the new use case quickly.

Pivoting delivery offerings and utilizing advancements in technology, will help shippers be more agile and better align with market needs as they continually evolve. COVID-19 happens to be the most obvious example that would spark a pivot in delivery offerings, but there are so many realities that can and will continue to impact that in the future.

A combination of securing more localized supply chain networks, a willingness to be agile in the face of disruption, and the fearless adoption of new technologies will ultimately help shippers to be more resilient amid a changing global landscape.

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