COVID-19, inflation and vaccines were big topics in 2021. But another phrase was spoken ubiquitously across almost every industry: the supply chain crisis. The global supply chain has always been riddled with hindrances. But 2021 put the network to the test, with port congestion, factory shutdowns and labour shortages all contributing to overall delays and slowdowns, which experts previously indicated could last through 2023.
Despite the shortcomings in 2021, many retailers were able to adapt their supply chain solution strategies to pull through the year. Walmart and Target delivered exceptional results. Retailers need to refine their planning and merchandising strategies to make sure they can bring the right product to the right stores. This will be critical for retailers to survive this year. There will be a push toward more ‘seasonless’ and core products, which will help eliminate problems that come from overbuying and seasonality to help make products relevant for longer.
How 2022 plays out in terms of the supply chain will depend on the combined efforts of companies and governments to limit the control that some successful companies might have gained in regard to gauging prices in an environment where supply is limited.
As we enter a new year, we realise that ‘disruption is the new normal’ and resilience is a top priority. In 2022, companies need to formalise resilience, building sustainable supply chain execution that supports business growth. Despite the volatility, organisations must take a step back and look at spending holistically. An integrated spend management approach spanning procurement, external workforce and travel and expense management, will provide customers with the visibility and agility they need to adapt to changes in their markets while continuing to drive their business objectives.
It has been nearly 2 years since the pandemic began wreaking havoc on the world’s businesses, exposing the fragility of linear supply chains and the need for a more networked economy. During this time, many businesses have changed their view of procurement from a cost watchdog to that of a strategic enabler. As we enter 2022, many procurement leaders are tasked with aligning every spending decision to their overall corporate strategies. To best deliver on this responsibility, these professionals will need an integrated view of total spending across the enterprise and deep into their supply chain. This level of visibility will enable the necessary information sharing and collaboration needed to contribute to stronger business benefits, including better inventory management, more predictable lead times, alternative sources of supply, stronger supplier compliance and of course, continued cost savings.
A digital network approach can transform fragmented supply chains into unified, collaborative, intelligent networks for supply, logistics, asset management and service. With tighter collaboration between trading partners on a trusted network, companies can better anticipate shifts in supply and demand, deepening their competitive edge in the face of profound disruption.
Disruption has been front and centre stage in 2021 and had validated the supply chain transformation journey that so many companies are on. In fact, companies that had aggressively pursued business transformation will outperform those that have not. The supply chain will continue, must continue, on its journey of almost unparalleled levels of change with digital transformation at the center of efforts to both improve efficiency and effectiveness and be resilient to further, inevitable disruption.