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Post-pandemic world: Future of logistics and supply chain solutions

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It’s impossible to express the impact that COVID-19 had on the global supply chain and capture how it has radically changed the market today. For over a year, international travel was shut down and the logistics industry, which allows businesses to transport and store goods, was hit hard by these international travel regulations. Not only were businesses faced with a limited (or absent) in-person market, but their supplies during the pandemic were often delayed by months or did not arrive at all. 

In spite of, or because of, the limited in-person market, e-commerce rapidly expanded. Many businesses were overwhelmed by the influx of orders they received through web-based channels. However, with the flow of raw materials and goods at an all-time low, many struggled to keep up with the increased demand. 

Alongside the practical difficulties associated with limited materials, imports were also dramatically more expensive. New Zealand faces a problem with imported inflation pushing up prices. Between 2021 and 2022, the price of tomatoes doubled in the local supermarkets, the largest annual food price inflation since 2011, government statistics indicate. This is indicative of a larger trend which threatens New Zealand-based transport organisations.

To counter the supply chain challenges, many countries redesignated logistics as an essential industry. Companies redesigned two key areas of their business — their supply chain to account for new challenges, and their workforce with an emphasis on automation to decrease the number of staff interacting. These solutions have set a precedent for future supply chain management trends and built resilience in businesses and logistics companies alike. Many of these post-pandemic business trends are here to stay.

Market resilience and emerging trends in supply chain management

For many businesses, the pandemic revealed weaknesses in their supply chain management. As a consequence, businesses have modernised their supply chain to account for these weaknesses. Post-pandemic supply chain management emphasises automatic and AI driven solutions including smart storage and e-commerce friendly shipping. With the climbing price of fuel and electricity, and the increasing demand for green logistics solutions from consumers, New Zealand businesses have begun to integrate green logistics strategies into their process. 

To improve the resilience and efficacy of supply chain logistics overall, businesses can focus on:

1. Digital-driven solutions with AI to meet customer demand

Organisations should take advantage of trends in AI technology and digital solutions to optimise all areas of their supply chain. As revealed in Deloitte’s 2023 Tech Trend report, AI will bring in the necessary advancements but it’s not so much of the tool itself than how it is being used and how much trust employers and employees have on its result. Being able to use AI most effectively will mean the difference between a positive and negative experience. For instance, the implementation of smart warehouse technology will still require careful planning at the start to ensure effective tracking of inventory; a weak strategy will not result in productive use and may lead to further hiccups, falsely rendering AI ineffective.

2. Trust in relationships along the supply chain

Healthy business relationships and connections are at the heart of any business’ success;  the pandemic supply chain issues demonstrated the importance of mutuality in trade relations. Without trust and a sense of mutual value, business relationships will crumble. Ensuing that all actors in a supply chain understand their value and feel benefited by the arrangement can ensure the longevity and functionality of a supply chain. 

3. Supply chain sustainability

Concerns about sustainability from an economic and environmental perspective are not new, but since the pandemic, customers have come to expect basic environmental sustainability from organisations. This could mean carbon offsetting, using green energy in warehouses, providing detailed carbon reports and overall green optimisation along the supply chain. 

Even if a business does not have environmental sustainability as a primary goal, they should implement these strategies; a February 2023 IBM survey revealed that three out of five consumers spent half of their last purchase on sustainable goods. By meeting customer expectations in this area, you position yourself as socially responsible, in line with what customers are looking for. This helps to drive up sales and also retention rates. 

Business recovery after the pandemic  

The COVID-19 pandemic impact on supply chains globally is evident, but this has forced companies to develop supply chain strategies that are watertight, and to implement innovative tech solutions for efficacy and security. As we continue to move into the ‘new normal’ after the pandemic, businesses must be savvy and examine how these resilience strategies can benefit them into the future. 

A reliable logistics provider like DHL Express can help businesses feel secure and offer security to their clients. As experts in B2B and B2C international transportation logistics, DHL Express can be a part of your business’ resilience strategy. Sign up for an account today or get in touch with our team to learn how DHL Express can help your business.