Globally, the last two years have been extremely challenging and disruptive for the supply chain sector. Some notable disturbances were demand instability, labor shortages, transportation obstacles, supplier shortages and more. Another concern area has been the ongoing US-China trade war that has affected companies with global manufacturing networks. The trade conflict has led to multiple rounds of tariffs on goods ranging from automotive, energy, technology, healthcare, retail, and more. And now the Russia-Ukraine standoff isn’t helping the sector much.

The political, economic and business settings also turned out to be challenging. For example, in the UK and the Europe, the supply chain industry felt pressure because of Brexit, which caused increase in red tape and cross-border checks. There is no doubt that businesses have become increasingly international with the reduction of traditional barriers and the cross-border movement of products and services. However, the pandemic led to major disruptions in cross-border trade, which includes new protocols, further border controls, and new set of documents required for shippers and traders.

At the same time, the environmental impact of logistics and supply chain practices are becoming priority. In order to meet emissions targets and commitments, countries are required to focus on developing more sustainable supply chain activities. For example, switching to electric delivery vehicles and relocating distribution centres to reduce distances travelled.

This year even the international shipping costs are expected to remain high.

Another pressure is lack of workers, resulting in congested ports, stalled ships and overloaded warehouses. Globally, industries have been affected by the supply chain obstructions that has caused shortage of essentials (food and medicines), technology components, electronics, and automotive components. For instance, microchips and other semiconductors, which are used for billions of products such as smartphones, data centres, computers, and vehicles, faced the direct impact of the global supply chain crisis.

Even though disruptions continue, supply chain sector is recovering slowly. According to a Wall Street Journal survey, about 45% of economists believe that there will be improvement but only by the second half of 2022.

What are the trends that will help shape the future?

Trend #1 Resilience to face the unexpected

To deal with unexpected situations, companies need to focus on improving the logistics of their supply chain to ensure fulfillment of order and shipping items through reliable, cost-effective and timely mode.

Trend #4 Last mile delivery solutions

With the supply chain issues affecting the entire world, retailers need to take delivery seriously this year by focusing on last mile delivery solutions. People expect fast delivery of their orders and with transparency. The available technology and last mile allow logistics companies to make the supply chain visible to all parties.

Trend #2 Using automation to deal with operational challenges

Automation helps enhance existing supply chain processes as businesses need optimization to stay competitive. One of the many benefits of automating supply chain is that it reduces manual effort while increasing productivity, efficiency, and accuracy.

Trend #5 Blockchain for more visibility

With rapid digital evolution, companies are investing in digital supply chain technologies to gain visibility and bring risks under control. Blockchain technology supports businesses with accurate and up-to-date information at all times, ensure visibility of data and information for all stakeholders and assure security of all information contained within the blockchain.

Trend #3 Sustainability will remain a key focus area

Retail supply chains is responsible for high carbon emissions and transportation remains the main culprit. Implementing sustainability across the sector – particularly through sustainable eCommerce fulfillment options and delivery operations – will help supply chains stay competitive and even increase market share.

Trend #6 Adoption of Circular Supply Chain Model

The traditional supply chain model is set to be replaced with the circular supply chain model that allows manufacturers and sellers to use discarded materials to remake them for resale. Instead of making one-time-use products, companies are slowly moving towards refurbishing used parts to turn back into their raw material form.