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The Second Year of Covid Kicked the Logistics Industry into High Gear

Adapting to a future of continuous change


Someone recently asked us to share our thoughts on the future of supply chain management. We always enjoy this exercise, but we’re not quite as confident about our answers this year as we’ve been in the past. 

We can predict that the logistics industry will continue to do an incredible job of adapting to extraordinary circumstances, as it has over the last 22 months, and that we will keep doing our best to stay one step ahead of whatever comes next.

Businesses don't initiate change; people do

It’s common knowledge that industries are slow to change, and business leaders are not rewarded for taking unnecessary risks. (No one has ever been fired for “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it.”) But in the words of the ancient Greek physician Hippocrates, “desperate times call for desperate measures.” That’s why, since 2020, we’ve seen an all-out effort by brands and their supply chain partners to adopt a new retail paradigm that puts people first.

Once industry leaders decided to make employees and customers a priority, they started down a path of investing in new training, software, equipment, and delivery options that were implemented in a matter of months.  

Of course, people and profits are directly related. Many companies that reacted quickly and publicly to help slow the transmission of COVID stand to benefit from their actions for years to come. 

How "people first" is influencing the future of logistics

If we learned anything this year, it’s that consumers have as much influence over the future of the supply chain as technology companies do. Why? Because retailers experiment with new channels and fulfillment strategies if they think customers expect them to, but not necessarily because they believe there’s anything wrong with the way they already do things.

We’ve already seen how consumer trends like mobile phones, social commerce, and sustainability, have transformed shopping patterns. In 2022, we expect to see new devices, new media, and even new generations of digitally-adept wage earners with more disposable income who will continue to push the industry forward.

2021 was also the first year of the "Great Resignation". As millions of workers voluntarily left their jobs, we realized that the world’s labor supply has some serious underlying weaknesses. For most of us, it means there aren’t enough employees left on ships, in the ports, or driving trucks, to move all the merchandise we’ve been buying online to local distribution centers in a timely fashion. 

But there is good news for some companies like our client Herbalife, for example, as more people switch to new careers like direct selling so they can control where and when they work in these uncertain times. The bottom line for everyone seems to be that whether you’re an online shopper or an independent distributor, reliable and efficient direct-to-customer fulfillment has become a crucial part of the global supply chain. 

Omnichannel everything

In 2020, when the entire world went online, all at once, to buy everything - we, the people, launched one of the fastest last-mile logistics upgrades in history.

From “BOPIS” to “BOPAC” to home delivery of everything from soap to sushi, retailers invested in new systems to allow customers to start a transaction in one channel and finish it in another. Today, customers can order something in one place and pay for it someplace else. Even the definition of a store has changed from a singular physical location to a technology-driven shopping and fulfillment experience that can bounce from mobile device, to website, to automated delivery locker, to local customer pickup center.

New influences

Finally, let’s touch on how a new generation of shoppers is influencing the future of commerce. eMarketer points out that Generation Z, which includes people born between 1997 and 2012, is “the most racially, ethnically, and sexually diverse generation in history.” They are also the most connected to brands through social media like TikTok, Instagram, and Snapchat, and the most skeptical about how companies use our personal data to advance their own agendas. 

Like their older siblings, the Millennials, convenience is king for Gen Z. They expect payment options like buy-now-pay-later, and fewer than 25% say they will pay for things in person and with cash in the future. They appreciate all the benefits of omnichannel retail that make it easier to get the things they need, when they need them, even when they can’t always get to the store.

About CURA Resource Group

At Cura Resource Group, we’re energized by the breakneck pace of change in our industry. We’re excited about the opportunity to help retailers fulfill orders in whatever way makes the most sense for their customers and their business. We continue to work with our international supply chain partners to accelerate adoption of data-driven global distribution networks and seamless, omnichannel fulfillment solutions and if you ask us, that’s a change for the better.

Will 2022 be the year you invest in your supply chain and expand into new markets? Contact us to find out how our local Sales Centers can be a key part of your successful omnichannel distribution strategy.

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Topics: omnichannel shopping retail direct-to-consumer Covid-19