What’s the supply chain buzzword of 2021?

What’s the supply chain buzzword of 2021?


Companies must be nimble in their approach to logistics and warehousing operations. Corporations that embrace agility can quickly maneuver and clear roadblocks when disruptions arise.

—Grant Koch
Solutions & Innovation Director
BDP International

Over the past 12 months, we have seen disruptions within an already challenging global logistics supply chain. Traditional seasonal patterns and trade flows have been upended. Adding to the complexity are congestions at seaports and inland locations. Offering agility to trading partners is critical to future success.

—Michael Britton
Managing Director
Sealand Americas

Post COVID-19, routes and transport modes have shifted or even vanished completely. To mitigate the constant changes, shippers have to create agile supply chains that can react quickly to current market conditions.

—Florian Langenmayr
Head of Business Development USA
DACHSER Americas Air & Sea Logistics Corp.

Agility requires a fundamental shift from the historical focus on chasing accuracy and optimizing individual functions. Increased agility enables companies to sense and respond in concert across the end-to-end network.

—Jay Muelhoefer


The pandemic, by sowing chaos and amplifying the bullwhip effect, brought more to the fore that shippers and carriers have to get better visibility on what’s happening and be ready to pivot to alternatives.

—Michael Zimmerman
Americas Lead

Middle Mile

As last-mile challenges receive all the attention with the rapid growth of e-commerce, the middle mile is beginning to draw the focus. Middle mile is the execution of deliveries from warehouses or distribution centers to brick-and-mortar facilities.

—Sean Mueller
VP, Business Development
Symbia Logistics

Elastic Logistics

This means a company’s supply chain can scale based on demand. Shippers that implement digital logistics processes, along with new technologies, can expand and shrink supply chain activities as needed.

—Oren Zaslansky
Flock Freight


In 2021, direct-to-consumer e-commerce companies will scale quickly whether they planned on it or not. They’ll need to rise to the occasion so as not to be crushed under their own success. Scalable solutions for fulfillment, technology, and marketing that won’t break when sharp growth happens will be critical.

—Esther Kestenbaum Prozan
Ruby Has


Everyone now needs to think about how to automate environmental reporting in their supply chain in order to make reporting feasible without adding people or putting out non-auditable numbers.

—William Fox
Chief Product Officer
Data Gumbo


Economic indicators show interest rates are rising and bonds are almost as attractive as dividend rates from major stocks. If that happens, we’ll see gas, commodities, and labor costs all go up. That’s good news for supply chains because we can be a source of cost reduction and savings.

—David Landau
Chief Product Officer
BluJay Solutions


Supply chains globally saw immense and rapid change in 2020, causing demand shifts, disrupted operations, inventory management challenges, and overall financial pressures, bringing about unforeseen chaos. Supply chain leaders are adapting to the new reality by creating a flexible yet resilient strategy that can proactively and rapidly adapt to change to minimize the impacts due to disruption and future-proof their supply chains for adaptability.

—Nate Rosier
SVP, Consulting


Everyone wants capacity. Everyone needs capacity. But with the shortage the industry has experienced in most of 2020 and into 2021, most companies have failed to find the magic formula to attract and retain capacity. Something to consider—drivers are loyal to companies that treat them well, not just financially, but through giving them the respect, communication, and excellent service they deserve.

—Roy Rosell
Product Marketing Manager
NEXT Trucking

Post-COVID boom

As in, planning for the post-COVID boom, capitalizing on the post-COVID boom, and scaling for the post-COVID boom.

—Patrick Maley
Chief Marketing Officer/EVP Product Strategy and Marketing
BluJay Solutions

Delayed, Delayed, Delayed

The situation at the West Coast ports is the result of staggering ripple effects starting with consumer demand to scarcity of ocean liners and shipping containers in Asia and extends to backlogs in unloading and moving full containers. Then pile on a lack of workers in ground operations to wait times on getting product onto shelves.

—Tom Pelliccio
EVP International
Pilot Freight Services


Supply chains were forced into survival mode as our normal cornerstones like efficiency, optimization, and sustainability were not always an option. As businesses adapt post-pandemic, success will be had by those that identify and implement cost, service, and growth controls up and down their supply chain.

—Mike Glover
VP E-commerce Fulfillment
LEGACY Supply Chain


For critical products, we need supply chains that are resilient to disruptions, or able to return quickly to normal operations. Detailed supply chain mapping and analytical stress testing can indicate weak points and potential solutions to mitigate disruptions.

—Julie L. Swann, PhD
A. Doug Allison Distinguished Professor & Department Head
Fitts Industrial and Systems Engineering
North Carolina State University

Achieving true supply chain resiliency involves evaluating your level of dependency on suppliers, transportation, and manufacturing, as well as scenario and demand planning for unexpected shifts. Being resilient means having the ability to shift and rapidly replan as needed.

—Scott Deakins

Visibility and real-time risk monitoring have always been important, but the inclination to invest in these critical tools was limited. For the 2021 landscape, supply chain resilience is at the forefront of managing risk and being better positioned to handle—and even gain advantage from—disruptions.

—Kaushik Sarda
Sr. Director, Supply Chain Solutions

Supply chain resilience will prove to be the secret ingredient of successful global organizations in 2021, as they learn to quickly anticipate, adjust, and respond to the growing number of unexpected events that arise around the world.

—Lauren Clark-Bakewell
Chief Product Officer, Finance & Risk
Dun & Bradstreet

Have a great answer to a good question?

Be sure to participate next month. We want to know:

What fictional character or historical figure would you put in charge of global vaccine logistics and distribution?

We’ll publish some answers. Tell us at [email protected] or tweet us @ILMagazine #ILgoodquestion.

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