As businesses continue to face economic turmoil globally, supply chains experts are facing unique stress and are drawing an increased level of analysis. Nobody expected a virus wreak havoc for many industries and their supply chains. This major breakdown encouraged an industry-wide awakening that was decades in the making. Although businesses tried to adapt with new challenges on a daily-basis, most pushed long-term investments to the side and focused on issues which were more immediate in nature.

Now in 2021, with the apex of chaos fading in the rear-view mirror, businesses can start unpacking the lessons learnt in order to move forward. But it’s essential to understand the shortcomings exposed in 2020, largely stemmed from an over-dependency on the concept of resiliency. The concept mostly depended on out-of-date technology that hampered visibility and decision making, while also recommending pocket heavy solutions that most organizations avoided in the race to get their products out the door as fast as possible at the lowest possible investment. As a result of these practices, supply chains collapsed when demand fluctuated. The crisis has set the stage for a new age in supply chain and logistics management – one which identifies the serious flaws formed by these outdated practices and replaces them with precise processes and latest technologies.

It is also noteworthy that all challenges may not be related to the pandemic and technology. The recent interruption of traffic through the Suez Canal, caused by the mighty Ever Given commercial vessel, also created uncertainty across the global supply chain and stoked fears that the ports could suffer a new congestion crisis. The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) said the crisis has laid bare the fragility of global supply chains and emphasised how important the container shipping sector is to the global economy. The Suez incident is a prime example of how an unpredicted incident can disrupt the finely balanced system that we all rely on.

Considering what has happened and what we are currently experiencing, supply chain trends in 2021-22 will likely reflect a need for change and more resiliency in supply chains.


Trend #1 Supply Chain Resilience

COVID-19 encouraged supply chain resilience. Questions were raised of how agile and flexible the value chains were. The trend to have more regionalized supply chains with production closer to market has been talked about for the last 10 years, but COVID-19 has put in the next gear here.

Trend #4 Labor shortage

While many businesses closed and unemployment rose in 2020, now is the time for economy to recover, inflicting a positive working environment. Supply chain needs force and hopefully the push to strengthen supply chain will lead to generation of new opportunities for the workforce.

Trend #2 Green Logistics

Sustainability has been a much talked about driving trend for some time now. With the enhanced awareness that transportation is a large contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, green logistics has gained substantial traction over the years. Designing value chain towards progressive energy management systems to lower overall carbon footprint is expected to emerge in a rapid way.

Trend #5 Intelligent forecasting

Historical trends to forecast and manage inventory were put to test in the year gone by. As we return to a more stable environment, AI and ML will reclaim their place at the forefront of advanced analytics and forecasting.

Trend #3 Omnichannel services and contact less deliveries

The omnichannel approach offers a tailored experience for customers as marketing, sales, and logistics combine efforts. Today’s customers want flexibility in their order and those companies that can provide an omnichannel experience will be able to best contend their customers. On the other hand, no-contact delivery is the new normal borne from customer’s desire to minimize physical contact. Noteworthy advancement is in progress to push robotic, drone and autonomous vehicle deliveries into its next phase.

Trend #6 Resilience for risk prevention

When one part of the supply network is exposed to risk, all others are exposed to disruption. Focusing on supply chain resilience in line with risk prevention will enable organizations to navigate through crisis faster than the competition.