As 2022 and peak season close, shippers can look forward to a fresh new set of supply chain challenges in the year ahead. While the pandemic is still a challenge—particularly in China—economic uncertainty, slowing demand, and ballooning inflation have upstaged the pandemic as 2023’s supply chain challenges.
But shippers have plenty to be optimistic about in 2023. Struggles from the pandemic provide a solid playbook to future-proof operations against next year’s supply chain challenges. Companies are planning better and further ahead. And many are updating their risk management strategies to build-in financial and operational cushioning into their operations.
Shippers may have to put the pandemic’s hard-earned lessons into practice much sooner than expected, but that may very well mean they’ll be even more successful at weathering the challenges ahead.
A golden opportunity for shippers
While many shippers are gearing up for a stormy 2023, soft market conditions and lower spot rates may tempt others into getting too comfortable. As historically-high consumer demand wanes, so have pressures to be more agile and efficient. Investing in improved visibility doesn’t seem as urgent when shipments flow without a hitch and port congestion is in the rearview mirror. The imperative to diversify carrier bases doesn’t hold the same strength in the face of plummeting freight prices and record-low shipment volumes.
But, if companies have learned anything in the past three years, conditions can flip quickly. While it’s difficult to predict where the pendulum will swing, the best bet for shippers is to prepare for 2023’s supply chain challenges. Rather than step back, now is the time to step up and embed the pandemic’s hard-earned wisdom into people, processes, and operations. Some key areas to focus on are:
- Contingency planning. The transition period from 2022 to 2023 is a prime time for supply chain managers to debrief on the pandemic’s lessons and revise the organization’s event management strategies. Full-scale audits of data and input from key stakeholders can provide valuable insight into what went right and help pinpoint improvement areas to focus -n in the months ahead.
- Digital transformation. Shippers still waiting to jump into digital transformation will find the respite from near-constant crisis mode an ideal time to make comprehensive operational changes and adopt new technologies. As supply chains become increasingly digitized, the imperative for shippers to transform operational processes will continue to grow. Businesses making their first foray into digital transformation will find that investments in automation and control tower features will yield considerable ROI in building up supply chain resiliency and performance.
- Collaboration. The past three years have seen extraordinary collaboration throughout supply chains. Shippers seeking agility must improve efforts to build closer ties with carriers and suppliers—sometimes even with competitors. End-to-end visibility, reliable data-sharing, and a solid commitment to continuous improvement will separate successful collaboration strategies from those that lag.
Handle 2023 supply chain challenges
Partnering with the right 3PL can boost shippers’ ability to seamlessly implement new strategies, identify and address improvement areas, and facilitate collaboration in the face of upcoming supply chain challenges. Contact CTSI-Global to learn how our software tools can help you thrive in the year ahead.