June 2021 | Commentary | Good Question

How has the pandemic affected supply chain partnerships?

Tags: Partnership, Labor Management, Technology


The pandemic magnified the need for collaborative partnerships between service providers and customers. We have seen things happening in the market you almost couldn't make up in Hollywood, and those that have remained transparent and collaborative in navigating these challenges have succeeded.

—Matt Friedman
Vice President, Sales, Warehousing
Mainfreight


Fluctuating production and consumer demand, coupled with labor and transportation capacity issues, have required more planning and preparation for many companies. Dramatic shifts in any of those variables have led many supply chain leaders to ask for help. Collaborating with partners on ideas that solve supply chain problems has been crucial to mitigating risk and keeping supply chains flowing throughout the pandemic.

—Christina Ryan
Executive Vice President, Managed Services
Redwood Logistics


The pandemic demonstrated supply chain partners need to collaborate better and with greater transparency. We all were forced back to the drawing board. We found success leveraging technology to improve efficiency by eliminating cost and complexity.

—Todd Pigeon
Chief Commercial Officer
Sealand Americas



Supply chain collaborations have increased rapidly. System providers and operators need to find ways to appease customers and meet rising e-commerce demand, which is difficult to do alone. Hence, there will be a substantial growth in collaborations where companies provide unique solutions to the supply chain machine rather than one giant solution to cover all. Users can then consequently tailor their operations more efficiently and personally, leading to better results.

Industry 4.0 is about compatibility and the Internet of Things. The pandemic has just accelerated it.

—Aldus von der Burg
Founder & CEO
Meili Robots


The heightened stakes of keeping up with high demand and scarce labor urgently meant vendors had to condense their integration timelines. Supply chain partnerships that were in testing mode were pushed into full production. We went from practicing the 200-meter relay to running it in the Olympics.

—Lior Elazary
Co-founder and CEO, inVia Robotics


The degree of vulnerability within the supply chain revealed by the pandemic forced us to revisit business models and redefine supply chain partnerships to ensure alliances evolve along with the organizations. Companies are looking at operational processes, enhanced digitization, and new customer demands.

—Andy Frommenwiler
VP Air Freight USA
Dachser USA Air & Sea Logistics


The pandemic redefined and reinvigorated partnerships. Collaborative supply chain partnerships allow firms to navigate current challenges, while more importantly building capability for the "next normal" of tomorrow's supply chain.

—Mike Andaloro
President & COO
BDP International


Supply chain turmoil triggered by the pandemic has resulted in a massive acceleration in channel shift to e-commerce. Retailers collaborate across selling channels more than ever before, warehouses are becoming truly omnichannel, and advanced automation and robotics are enabling the required process capabilities.

—John Seidl
Consulting Partner
GreyOrange


Market volatility caused firms with unreliable partners to evaluate alternative products, services, technologies, and strategies. Shippers gravitated toward firms that could meet service requirements, reshuffling partnerships as a result.

—Oren Zaslansky
Founder and CEO
Flock Freight


disruption tested and proved or broke existing partnerships as shippers and their logistics providers adapted to either make it work, be innovative, be opportunistic, or drop it. Hard lessons have been learned and supply chains are being redesigned, rerouted, and de-risked as a result. Overall they will become more expensive as more optionality is built in.

—Michael Zimmerman
Partner
Americas Lead, Kearney


Customers were forced to look at reshoring their supplies or taking a pareto approach—having some on shore and some off shore. Many have also started adopting a circular economy model to retain material and as many components as possible.

—Colin Elkins
Vice President
Manufacturing, IFS


Partnership development is a key capability supply chain leaders will have to leverage to create sustainable value. While the pandemic changed some of the partners, it did not change the concept of partnerships.

—Melvin Bosso
Principal
Myrtle Consulting Group (now a part of Accenture)


Lack of collaboration between retailers and CPGs led to avoidable out of stocks. Alignment is essential to ensure supply chain disruptions don't result in forecasts that can't be accurately executed. Using AI-based collaboration tools, both retailers and CPGs can increase agility and improve inventory management.

—Patty McDonald
Global Solution Marketing Director
Symphony RetailAI


The urgency around supplier risk and preparations to withstand the next disruption is changing the dynamic of supply chains. Organizations must innovate beyond the traditional, linear supply chain model and lean into a dynamic, collaborative supply network.

—Tony Harris
Global Vice President,
Business Network Solutions, SAP


With the wide range of disruptions, crises, and changes that unfolded quickly and unexpectedly, relying on partners has become more important than ever and critical to helping companies weather the storm.

—Brad Wright
CEO, Chunker


In conversations with both consumer brands and external suppliers, we've seen an increased focus on collaboration over transactional conversations based on cost efficiency, as well as an acceleration of technological adoption in order to facilitate that heightened level of collaboration.

—Jason Tham, CEO, Nulogy


Managing constant change with suppliers through brute force no longer works. The pandemic exposed that most companies have neglected the first mile of their supply chains for decades. To stay competitive, procurement and supply chain teams must embrace technology and innovation to modernize their supply chain partnerships.

—Tom Kieley
CEO
SourceDay


Companies are focusing on the points where collaboration really matters and find practical solutions. Thirty-page consulting decks have been replaced with pragmatic, focused solutions for well-defined problems in visibility and pricing.

—Brian Glick
CEO and Founder
Chain.io


The pandemic reinforced the importance of having partners you trust to cope with volatility and uncertainty while leveraging innovative technology and data insights to remain agile.

—Scott Sureddin
CEO
DHL Supply Chain North America


Everyone is re-evaluating their supply chains with a stronger focus on aligning with the consumer. Distribution partnerships need to evolve with that change or they will be left behind.

—Dan Waters
VP Sales, North America
Made4net


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