The supply chain is now the leading proponent everywhere and has transitioned from a backend organizational function to a differentiator for the enterprise. Digitalization is employing digital technologies and using machine data to reimagine day-to-day operations, thus, ensuring a resilient and flexible enterprise. So, it is becoming increasingly important to reimagine the supply chain strategy by incorporating digitalization as one of the fundamental aspects of this new normal.

The subject of supply chains has been spoken about and heard across society. If explained in more straightforward terms, supply chain is the discipline that makes everything move around & reach its destination within a stipulated timeline to keep our world moving. Today, as we move past the pandemic, pretty much everything right from the simple daily essentials like edibles, clothing, medicines, healthcare, gaming and etcetera, has increasingly become available online & ordering all this stuff from an e-commerce platform is the new normal, which otherwise was an in-store physical walk-in & shopping experience, all this is possible because of advanced supply chain logistics. Moreover, most of the famous retail chains across sectors like fashion, FMCG as well as some renowned pharmaceutical companies now have their online stores as the consumer’s shopping preference shifts toward a more personalized choice.

The delivery timelines are shortened, so much so that certain items can be obtained in a matter of a few hours even if ordered online. The modern e-commerce players like Amazon and Flipkart (the e-commerce unit of Walmart) have gone to the extent of updating their customers on each & every stage, right from ordering it on the portal through packing, dispatching & finally, when the package reaches the customer – this all can be tracked from the comfort of one’s mobile phone. Thanks to the advent of cutting-edge technologies like the Internet of Things that have made the digitalization of supply chain processes at such scalable levels possible.

Digitalization of the Maritime Supply Chains

The role of maritime trade & the shipping industry has been pivotal in ensuring that essentials across categories like edibles, pharmaceuticals, healthcare and every major human need are taken care of even in these unfavourable conditions created due to the pandemic. Considering the universal fact that 90% of trade happens through the shipping industry (which in fact depends on the shipping containers), it thus becomes a prime focus for all the stakeholders to ensure that the digitalization of the shipping industry is counted amongst the key priorities.

Based on the new World Bank – IAPH report, employing digital technologies through an ecosystem rather than on an individual level can yield remarkable results for the global supply chains when considered on the metrics like safety, resilience and efficiency. In fact, enabling an efficient digital ecosystem could lead to automated workflows powered by uninterrupted operations through a data exchange mechanism, shipping lines, port services, transport handling,  as well as cargo & clearance services.

Factors leading to changes in Global Supply Chains

The trade barriers and a rise in protectionism attitude fuelled by the rivalry between the leading economies of the world and the sudden shift in the consumer buying pattern towards subscribing to services rather than paying upfront for a product, right from renting a house to the automobile since the preference is now more towards managing & budgeting monthly operational expenses rather than paying a considerable amount towards capital expenditure. This change in the customers’ behaviour from buying the product outright to consuming it as services demands unprecedented logistics and supply chain management skills and can only be better served if companies can rethink the entire sales organization and realign their approach to that of companies dealing in utilities.

These are all fundamental behavioural changes in the way people have started functioning. So the companies must catch up with the pace that ultimately leads to an unprecedented overhaul of global supply chains as the current model on which the current supply chain strategy operates can no longer keep up with the demands and norms of the post-pandemic world.

How & Why does Supply Chain Digitalization matter?

Everyone loves transparency & simplicity. All the companies are in a race to reinvent the way they plan, design, manufacture, deliver and enable the customers to operate their products and or services and to ensure this, companies must incorporate practices that can help them extend their organization beyond the physical four walls to collaborate with suppliers, contractors, logistic providers, and other business partners and thus improve the visibility for customers. All this can be achieved by digitalizing all the operations of the supply chain process, end-to-end.

Recently one of the major automobile manufacturers noticed that there was an increase in complaints from customers about the delay in delivery times of the new vehicles caused due to the global semiconductor supply shortage. Well, resolving this global semiconductor shortage is not just a single organization’s task, and so there is nothing much that this company could do about it, but then customer-centricity is something that no business wants to lose, and so this car manufacturer implemented a brilliant supply chain strategy by offering an application to its customers booking a new car with them. The idea is to offer customers a completely transparent experience right from the day they book their car(s) with the company. How does this work? The answer is supply Chain digitalization. Once the customer logs in to the application, they can access any & every detail related end-to-end supply chain process of the purchased car’s manufacturing process, beginning with the spare parts arriving at the plant through the assembling, fabricating, painting to the testing process. All this was only possible because this company brought all the stakeholders on a single platform, essentially giving all access to the single source of truth and ultimately making the customer a part of the journey rather than making it sheer transactional as is done in the traditional way.

Reimagining & Empowering the Global Supply Chains Digitally

As countries move past the difficulties and challenges thrown by this pandemic, there is an increasing trend towards more flexible and multilevel sourcing to ensure a proper response & recovery from any unanticipated mishaps at any point in the supply chain logistics in the future. Digitalization, like the Industry 4.0 practices, looks promising in making the modern supply chain strategy resilient & sustainable to any emergencies, thus ensuring a smooth & synchronized end-to-end execution most profitably. Earlier, the supply chain process was more linear in design, approach & outcome but today’s world demands a robust supply chain that is well networked & more responsive to any situation at any point and at any given time.

As can now be seen, no one in the entire world was prepared for a catastrophe of such scale as that of this pandemic. Not just the developing countries but even the developed nations with the most advanced tools and technologies along with the best possible infrastructure to combat the most unfavourable and harsh weather conditions were rendered useless, and the world was brought to a standstill like never before. This is because no one ever factored hindrance for such scale while planning the supply chain strategy. Disruption in the supply chain is not actually an alien concept as has been witnessed in the past due to sudden changes in the geopolitics triggered by events such as Brexit, Trade wars, invasions, terrorism, as well as in case of natural disasters such as earthquakes, thunderstorms & floods, but these were more or less regional in impact as well as in outcome whereas in case of the pandemic, no corner of our world has been spared and so the disruption has been more personal, make this a hot discussion topic across boardrooms, parliaments and even the living rooms.

A lot has been written about possible ways of reimagining the new and more resilient global supply chains by deglobalizing and fragmenting into small pockets of the regional independently operating network. But this will lead to a mammoth investment as all the touchpoints right from manufacturers to suppliers and distribution channels will have to be made available regionally leading to massive redundancies. Rather, having a digitalized supply chain process can help the entire world to outsmart any uncertain events by ensuring their various supply chain variability scenarios are considered, simulated & responded to events of occurrence.

At BOXXPORT, being a leading online container trading company, we offer you to buy and sell cargo containers fastly, easily, and securely. You might be thinking, how do we do so? We achieve this as digitalization adoption is our core expertise. To help you get scalable and most prominent achievable benefits, and to help to scale your business to new heights, we follow the most advanced technologies with optimum global logistics expertise.