Survey: Supply chains show resiliency amid COVID-19

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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After an initial disruption period, most supply chain executives say they have adapted to COVID-19.

According to a new survey of 150 U.S. supply chain leaders from third-party logistics solutions provider GlobalTranz Enterprises LLC, about one-third of respondents didn’t feel their company was prepared for shifting needs in their supply chain over the last six months. Four in 10 (41%) said they weren’t prepared to shift retail stores to become fulfillment hubs in major markets.

In addition, 35% of respondents didn’t feel they had an omnichannel strategy to adjust to consumer buying behavior and 34% didn’t feel they had established the necessary partnerships to handle supply chain demand.

However, since the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S. in March, 56% of respondents reported adopting a successful omnichannel strategy allowing them to reach consumers from a multichannel approach and a seamless shopping experience across physical stores and digital platforms. Eight in 10 (81%) say that they made changes to streamline and simplify their payment processes for customers.

Respondents are also turning to third-party partnerships to resolve supply chain issues caused by COVID-19. Three-quarters (74%) of respondents said they are more likely to outsource logistics and transportation services, while 91% said partnerships with supply chain companies are necessary to get through peak season successfully. And eight in 10 report that they’re working with or looking for partnerships to meet the demand of the upcoming peak season.

Despite this generally successful response to COVID-19, survey data shows that performance issues across the U.S. supply chain still persist, finding that 31% of respondents felt they didn’t have the resources – parts, materials, products, etc. - to meet customer needs over the last six months. Looking ahead, decision-makers acknowledged this peak season will likely be less profitable with more disruptions than 2019.

Almost two-thirds (64%) of respondents say they’ve dealt with more late or failed deliveries than what is typical, while 59% say that they are concerned about not having the resources needed to meet peak customer demand and almost half believe their peak season will bring in less revenue than 2019.

Respondents have a generally optimistic long-term outlook about the health of the supply chain. Roughly half (49%) feel their company’s supply chain will be operating better within the next three months, and 86% anticipate their supply chain operations will be improved within a year from now.

Other U.S. supply chain trends uncovered by the survey include:
•    At least six in 10 respondents reported they’ve experienced an influx of customers wanting last-mile delivery solutions and increased demand for white-glove service (e.g. in-home installation, haul away, etc.).
•    At least eight in 10 respondents said that it's important for a company to provide real-time data to everyone across the company, have customized services, offer easy to use technology, have a vast transportation network, and provide 24/7 support. 
•    79% of respondents reported making changes to their company’s supply chain to handle bulk buying and delivery of larger items.