From forest fires to hurricanes to the pandemic that almost brought the world to its knees – businesses, today, are facing all kinds of challenges. According to an industry research, amongst the biggest areas impacted is that of supply chain, with over 90% of the Fortune 1000 facing a supply chain disruption.

Read on to know about some of the key supply chain challenges faced by business leaders worldwide, and some solutions on how to create an agile supply chain.

Managing regional supply chain disruptions

While some disruptions cannot be anticipated, having a back-up plan can be a leader’s biggest asset, especially in cases of regional supply chain disruptions. When it comes to labor, material, and logistics, having multiple suppliers across various geographies can mitigate the impact of regional disturbances.

For example, consider a retailer in the US that sources raw material from China and Mexico. Due to the trade wars, the retailer may have moved everything from Mexico to China at the beginning of the year. While the other places were reeling under the pandemic, China was open for trade, and the retailer could go back to sourcing material from there with minimal disruptions in the supply chain.

Talking about labor-related challenges, here’s an interesting example from a global leader in IT and networking. They have extremely complicated production lines and require labor that understands the technical aspects well. When hurricane Katrina hit Houston, all their competitors based in Houston lost their revenue. Meanwhile, they moved everything to the Hong Kong center to navigate the crisis without any supply chain disruptions and losses. With offshore support centers in place, even IT and support were easily managed during this time.

Multi-layered supply chains

Many retailers offer merchandise from other brands in addition to their private labels. However, while brands can exert direct control over the production and distribution of their labels, managing deliveries from other brands during emergencies is another ball game.

An American department store chain, in the past few months, were prioritizing the fulfillment of direct orders through their own distribution centers over orders being placed from retailers. This meant that they couldn’t fulfill orders in time because they were not receiving the said products in the first place. They overcame this challenge by pivoting their distribution models swiftly. This was possible because of a flexible supply chain that the company had built over the years. In addition, the company also leveraged its personal relations with brands to make sure their orders got some priority for faster fulfillment. 

The takeaway from this example is that agile supply chains are a necessity in today’s times. As a business leader, your priority should be to strategically build capabilities that allow extreme flexibility in your supply chain.  You can do this by going over use cases and investment patterns to suit your industry’s requirements. 

Last mile delivery issues

Supply chain logistics are like a marathon, where the last few miles can make all the difference. Integrating hyper-logistics in the last mile, therefore, becomes crucial. It is the capability of organizations to quickly adapt and deliver, which will make or break their future. 

A significant challenge faced by many firms would be speeding up their last-mile delivery systems. While this is a crucial step, it isn’t tricky when tackled with innovation and strategy. For example, businesses may consider micro-fulfillment centers in areas of high demand.

Another idea is to introduce curbside pick-ups or dart stores that are beneficial for stakeholders on both ends of the supply chain. Businesses can save time and costs by avoiding the hassle of doorstep deliveries while customers can pick goods immediately after placing an order in a contactless manner for higher safety.

With a bit of ingenuity and strategic thought, business leaders can reimagine delivery models, driven by a connected world and technology. And it is this combination of creativity and technical capability that will drive home a last-mile win.

There is no doubt in how business leaders are rising to the challenge of supply chain disruptions armed with their inventiveness, far-sightedness and tactical bent of mind. But there is no denying that successful implementation rests on the laurels of technology. In fact, artificial-intelligence-based technology like IoT and predictive analysis can increase visibility and eliminate bottlenecks in the supply chain. Advanced analytics can also predict client demand and drive anticipatory shipping through micro–fulfillment centers for faster deliveries.

At Zensar, we can help you identify key supply chain challenges to optimize your delivery, order fulfillment, and inventory capabilities. With our expertise and proven methodologies across inventory management, warehouse management (WMS), transportation management (TMS), and specialization in the implementation of leading Order Management Systems and Warehouse MS platforms, we can fully digitalize your supply chain and further leverage technologies like AI/ML to infuse AI-driven Planning and Forecasting algorithms at more granular levels to deliver a fully digitalized and reliable supply chain. 

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Dhiman Ray

Posted by Dhiman Ray

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