A new survey of supply chain decision-makers demonstrates that economic shutdowns and stay at home orders deeply impacted the ability to ship goods and meet delivery times, leading to shifts in business strategy.
The survey, conducted by GlobalTranz Enterprise, LL, examined the impact of COVID-19 on e-commerce order volumes, supply chain decision making, and how businesses are positioned to meet shifting consumer demand going into retail peak season.
Today, businesses are still adjusting to record levels of e-commerce demand and a longer peak shipping season, typically the time associated with holiday shopping, while facing continued issues across the supply chain.
“The economic disruption experienced in the last several months has pushed business leaders to make quick adjustments to meet new consumer demands and mitigate delivery problems,” said Bob Farrell, GlobalTranz CEO. “Businesses remain challenged by new demands on their supply chain and need partners that can help them solve issues around sourcing, fulfillment, and final mile delivery.”
A Pandemic Forced Retooling of Supply Chains
COVID-19 economic headwinds created tough decisions for supply chain leaders with survey respondents noting pandemic-related declines in their company’s performance. This further complicates the design and execution of essential supply chain operations during a time when companies needed to adopt or expand new activities, such as investment in e-commerce and omnichannel capabilities.
About a third of decision-makers reported that they didn’t feel their company was prepared for shifting needs in their supply chain over the last six months.
- 41% reported they weren’t prepared to shift retail stores to become fulfillment hubs in major markets.
- 35% didn’t feel they had an omnichannel strategy to adjust to consumer buying behavior.
- 34% didn’t feel they had established the necessary partnerships to handle supply chain demand.
At the same time, respondents noted that their companies have taken steps to expand new technology platforms and e-commerce solutions to meet evolving customer needs:
- 56% of respondents reported adopting a successful omnichannel strategy in the last six months, allowing them to reach consumers from a multichannel approach and a seamless shopping experience across physical stores and digital platforms.
- 81% report that they made changes to streamline and simplify their payment processes for customers.
- 74% said they are more likely to outsource logistics and transportation services.
Decision-makers are seeking help outside their walls with internal resources depleted, as 91% said partnerships with supply chain companies are necessary to get through peak season successfully. 8 in 10 report that they’re working with or looking for partnerships to meet the demand of the upcoming peak season.
Profitability Challenged During Peak
Survey data shows that performance issues across the U.S. supply chain persist, finding that 31% of respondents felt they didn’t have the resources – parts, materials, products, etc. - to meet customer needs over the last six months. Looking ahead, decision-makers acknowledged this peak season will likely be less profitable with more disruptions than 2019.
- 64% report they’ve dealt with more late or failed deliveries than what is typical.
- 59% of respondents say that they are concerned about not having the resources needed to meet peak customer demand and almost half believe their peak season will bring in less revenue than last year.
To address current shipping challenges, businesses have pushed into new or expanded services such as dedicated final mile solutions and real-time shipment tracking:
- At least 6 in 10 respondents reported they’ve experienced an influx of customers wanting last-mile delivery solutions and increased demand for white-glove service (e.g. in-home installation, haul away, etc.)
- At least 8 in 10 said that it's important for a company to provide real-time data to everyone across the company, have customized services, offer easy to use technology, have a vast transportation network, and provide 24/7 support.
- 79% reported making changes to their company’s supply chain to handle bulk buying and delivery of larger items.
While uncertainty remains today, supply chain decision-makers expressed increasing optimism in looking to the months ahead, with 49% saying they feel their company’s supply chain will be operating better within the next three months, and 86% anticipating their supply chain operations will be improved within a year from now.