The supply chain industry was hit particularly hard by the COVID-19 pandemic because many governments decided, and rightfully so, to pretty much shutter entire cities and industries in the first days of the outbreak.
Now that we’re slowly getting back up on our feet, how can companies restart their supply chains and how do they make it thrive in the new normal?
Back to Basics: Multiple Suppliers are Better Than One
In general, it’s always better to have multiple, diverse suppliers than relying on one. Whether you’re a multinational or a startup, this is one of the basics of business. Sure, having just one supplier for all your needs means it’s cheaper and paperwork is less. But that’s no longer true in our post-pandemic world.
During the first few days of the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020, businesses that had dual-or-more sourcing for their products or services felt the impact of the pandemic much less than their counterparts with single sources. Unfortunately, the outbreak started in China, where most manufacturers source materials and labor. But over recent months, the Asian giant has managed to recover from the ill-effects of the virus and many smaller suppliers are starting to reopen shop. If your company switched over to multiple-sourcing, this would be a boon for business.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution Has Management Solutions
One of the reasons companies choose to go for a single source for manufacturing, other than loyalty and cheaper pricing, is supply chain management. Multiple sources means multiple people to deal with, meaning you’ll need multiple management schemes to ensure everything is going as smoothly as possible. This means you need to spend more time and effort to keep everything in order.
But if there’s anything the Fourth Industrial Revolution (i.e. the birth of the digital business space) has taught us is that there will always be a cheap, efficient, readily available, and easy-to-use digital solution for any business problem. In the modern world, secure business operations, particularly for your supply chain, means relying on block-chain, Big Data, cloud computing, and so many other digital solutions to help you keep track of and manage multiple sources.
So let’s say you’ve got your supply chain all figured out: multiple sources means you have an uninterrupted flow of goods, your manufacturing processes are following stringent government regulations, and you’re ready to deliver your products to your customers. But how can you further minimize person-to-person contact in a process that requires it?
Simple: pay online and use robots to deliver your products.
Decades ago, these options may not have been feasible because they would have been too costly or still in their infancy to deliver favorable results. But today, online transactions and robotics in commerce has become a necessity, if not smart strategies for businesses.
The early 2010’s saw major companies like Amazon experiment with drone-delivered packages. But it wasn’t until the COVID-19 pandemic that companies began to see the huge benefit of having automated delivery systems that took the human element out of the equation.
The future is today and the future is safe, all-digital, and helped by robots.