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Top supply chain priorities in light of climate crisis and COVID

Research from Reuters Events Supply Chain in partnership with Blue Yonder has revealed the priority strategies and investments for supply chain execution and risk management within transportation and warehousing.

Following a year of intense changes in the logistics industry, The State of Supply Chain Execution Report 2021 analysed the anonymous responses of supply chain professionals and found that the COVID-19 pandemic, customer centricity, rising e-commerce complexity and costs, need for Direct-to-Consumer (D2C), and the risk of financial peril are propelling retailers, manufacturers and logistics service providers (LSPs) to digitally transform.  

E-commerce and D2C Volumes Skyrocket  

E-commerce shows no signs of slowing down. Companies looking to capitalize on the omni-channel opportunities created by increased online-order volume over the last 18 months are prioritizing more agile delivery and fulfillment models, like D2C: 

·         Retailers’/manufacturers’ online sales increased more than 120% over the past year. LSPs have seen e-commerce volumes explode, reporting a 200% increase compared to 2019-2020.   

“As the economy transitions to a post-pandemic environment, retailers, manufacturers and LSPs are transforming their transportation and broader supply chain operations to address their most pressing supply chain challenges,” said Raj Patel, senior director, 3PL Industry Strategy, Blue Yonder. “In the long term, investment in execution systems like Transportation Management Systems (TMS) and Warehouse Management Systems (WMS), as well as end-to-end visibility, automation, and cloud strategies will help them – and their customers – build more sustainable, resilient and agile organizations for the future.” 

Pandemic Prompts Re-evaluation of Supply Chain Risk Management 

From constraints on raw materials, to labor shortages, to growing cybersecurity threats on distributed networks, pandemic-related challenges have shifted supply chain risk management priorities: 

·         Respondents are hesitant to pursue near/onshoring plans, with only 29% of retailers/manufacturers making an investment. 

·         63% of retailers/manufacturers stated that dual-sourcing was a favored strategy for risk management moving forward. Constraints on the availability of raw materials caused supply side disruptions, even for those with distributed manufacturing facilities. 

·         Environmental concerns are also being considered when planning for supply chain risks. Over half (53%) of retailers/manufacturers and half (50%) of LSPs plan to invest in sustainability as a strategy for risk management. 

Companies Prioritise Digital-First Practices and Technology Investments  

With the growth of e-commerce, investment in modern supply chain technologies and new approaches have become essential for businesses to keep pace with shifting trends and customer expectations. The report found that there are various factors driving investment in supply chain technologies and digital-first practices: 

·         LSPs cited the pressure to reduce supply chain costs (58%) while also improving service levels for their retailer customers (48%) and dealing with labor shortages (30%). 

In the current supply chain environment, companies are moving away from legacy systems and prioritizing technologies that enable visibility for customers and their operations, automate processes and support enterprise agility.   

·         63% of retailers/manufacturers and 60% of LSPs agreed that end-to-end visibility is currently yielding the highest ROI in their supply chain execution process. 

·         Roughly half (48%) of retailers/manufacturers and more than half (57%) of LSPs have a robust cloud strategy in place, helping to create high levels of infrastructure agility that on-premise, legacy technology systems can’t achieve. 

Richard Ebach, CIO Americas, DB Schenker, said: “In the current supply chain environment, companies need good visibility into their transportation/ freight and partners that help them operate in a very agile, resilient manner. Knowing this, we’ve been investing in technology that provides good visibility for customers and their operations; tools that support enterprise agility; supply chain automation solutions; and zero-trust IT security tools. Combined, these technology solutions help our customers address their most pressing supply chain challenges while also helping them build stronger, more resilient organisations for the future.”

WEBINAR: Retail profitability the focus of new event collaboration between Zencargo and Bis Henderson

Retail margins are under increasing threat from soaring freight rates, poor carrier reliability and fluctuating demand. In response, Zencargo, the digital freight forwarder has announced a new online forum to analyse end-to-end retail profitability.

Scheduled for 14:00 on the 12th August, Guarding profitability through disruption: the retailers guide is being delivered in collaboration with Louisa Hosegood, of global supply chain consultancy Bis Henderson, who formerly held senior logistic roles within Marks and Spencer and John Lewis.

The online event comes in response to the unprecedented disruption in ocean and air freight that threatens the profitability, and even the survival, of many businesses. The event’s moderator, and Zencargo co-founder and CCO, Richard Fattal explains:

“The rules have completely changed, and every business needs to be keeping an eye on their bottom line profitability. It’s not just about logistics teams any more – finance, sales and data teams need to be working together to create joined up decision making that works for the whole business.”

“The changes in logistics, commercial environment and social habits formed in the last 18 months will have long-lasting consequences. Consumers will be voting with their wallets based on new values, higher expectations and evolving ways of living and working. The businesses that can adapt to these changes are the ones that will be able to maintain and grow profits.”

The topics under discussion include:

  • Analysing and comparing the commercial environment of 2021 with recent years
  • Managing customer expectations through uncertainty
  • Calculating landed costs of goods in a volatile environment
  • Updating planning and execution strategies to maximise flexibility and profit.

To read more about the webinar and to register, click here and save your place.

Navigate 2021, the new supply chain event is now live

Zencargo, the digital freight forwarder has announced the arrival of a new, summit-style supply chain event, Navigate.

Scheduled for 14:00 to 17:15 BST on the 13th May, Navigate brings together supply chain leaders from across the industry – from shipping to transportation to technology – to discuss how businesses can navigate through change, which is the theme for Navigate 2021. 

Already scheduled to speak are Patrik Berglund, the CEO of rates benchmarking platform Xeneta, John Urban, the founder of GT Nexus, one of the original control tower solutions, and Mark Taylor, managing director of Britannia Bureau, a consultancy specialising in customs and Brexit.

After a year of large scale disruption from the pandemic, Brexit and the volatility of the freight market, the event looks toward the longer-term impact of those changes. Speakers at Navigate will also be discussing organisational change, including how to make transformation projects actually happen, with advice from businesses who have had success in implementing new projects within their supply chain.

“Change is inevitable,” says Richard Fattal, chief commercial officer at Zencargo. “In supply chain, that has always been true, but this past year has underscored that being ready for change – and having the agility in your supply chain to deal with it – is non-negotiable.”

Also on the line-up is Lars Jensen, CEO of Vespucci Maritime. After spending twenty years working with shipping lines, most extensively at Maersk, he joins Navigate to discuss the relationship between carriers and shippers moving forward, from the more controlled command of supply and demand that carriers have learned in recent months, to the change in contractual relationships between parties – and what impact that has on supply planning.

John Urban, the founder of GT Nexus, will be in discussion with Tamir Strauss, the chief product and technology officer of Zencargo, to discuss how technology can help logistics teams embed positive transformation at the heart of their supply chain, whether that’s by standardising processes or simply automating exception management.

With hundreds of supply chain practitioners expected to attend, Navigate offers the opportunity to take the pulse of the logistics profession, and share your experiences, and learn from others in the field. 

To read more about the sessions planned and register to attend, visit