Vulnerabilities discovered early in the pandemic prompted quick measures like converting stores into temporary warehouses or relocating the whole workforce to work from home. Companies are seeking to make longer-term investments into the next normal for their logistics operations now that these market changes have become a long-term shift.
The failure to meet heightened customer expectations was one weakness highlighted by the outbreak. Shippers are seeking ways to put items closer to the consumer and hence deliver them faster.
Some businesses had to totally restructure their supply chains, concentrating on home delivery rather than typical B2B commercial destinations. This was especially true for items like workout equipment, which we’re moving away from gyms.
Home delivery and the last mile did not render brick-and-mortar retailers useless, but with the pandemic, many retailers were forced to convert their locations into fulfilment centres capable of delivering things to customers at their homes. After a year of using this strategy, several companies are investigating new network design ideas that will allow them to retain items closer to customers for the long haul.
Many businesses, for example, are rethinking their distribution strategies, which might entail relocating production operations closer to customers and distribution centres. Several companies are developing distribution centre models that will keep items on shelves faster and more efficiently, as well as utilizing micro-fulfilment tactics to meet demand.
Meeting Last-Mile Expectations
Many shippers are increasing their last-mile capabilities in addition to changing supply chain structures to satisfy customer expectations for on-time, consumer-friendly delivery. To compete with Amazon Prime, on-time delivery has become more important than ever, and features like in-home delivery and setup have become increasingly popular. Many firms are investing in new last-mile capabilities to get their products to consumer homes and create a distinctive customer experience as a long-term solution to months-long lockdowns that will persist beyond 2022.
As parcel carriers struggle to integrate big commodities like furniture pieces into their networks, this has become increasingly critical. Shipping through major parcel carriers was a speedy way to deliver items to customers early in the pandemic, but this is not a feasible long-term strategy.
As a result, businesses sought logistics partners that could combine their networks with carriers who could transport packages directly to customers and provide services such as doorstep delivery and house installations.
As the pandemic wanes, firms in several B2B and B2C industries are adjusting their emphasis to include network architecture and improving last-mile capabilities. Uncertainty has become the new normal, and short-term solutions have revealed various weaknesses.
Companies that build long-term logistics solutions—enabled by technology and data analytics to respond to customer demand and pandemic uncertainty—will thrive in the new supply chain realities.