As the retail industry experienced ongoing pandemic disruptions and affected the supply chain, consumer expectations for service remained high – leading to new fulfillment opportunities for products and services, including online shopping, in-store pickup, pick-up and delivery.
According to new research from Blue Yonder, the digital supply chain and omnichannel trading fulfillment company, practical and effective fulfillment are top priorities as they appear to enhance sustainability and consumer experiences. The logistics survey, conducted from March to April 2021, analyzed responses from more than 150 C-suite and senior executives across production, retail, third-party logistics, transportation and warehousing responsible for logistics and manufacturing activities in the United States as they make plans for a “is normal.”
Overall, the authors of the report stated that while 2020 was about speed and accessibility, 2021 will “clear a place at the table for sustainability.” In fact, 57 percent of logistics managers plan to invest in more sustainable upstream operations to maximize sustainability through future supply chains.
At the same time, logistics professionals with convenience and efficiency as a top priority reported that they planned to maintain and optimize popular fulfillment options, including online shopping, in-store pickup, pick-up and delivery on the market – ranking these flexible options as the most important factor in improving the pandemic consumer experience and ultimately a way to strengthen sustainability. Ninety-five percent of all logistics managers and 71 percent of consumer producers managers also said they plan to offer flexible delivery windows for online orders to maximize sustainability throughout the supply chain.
“As many companies were ill-prepared for the growing pressure to deliver enhanced consumer experiences caused by pandemic-induced e-commerce shocks, logistics leaders are turning their energy and resources to meet new and rising expectations,” said Fab Brasca, Group Vice President, Global Solutions at Blue Yonder. “To compete in this consumer-centric world, companies will need to use technologies that not only provide efficiency but also real-time visibility to meet customer expectations.”
In particular, while the pandemic in some cases forced companies and individuals to reconsider and relocate sustainability actions, Blue Yonder’s report showed that this effort has been largely restored. Overall, 54 percent of logistics managers said they had stopped sustainability initiatives due to the pandemic, but 77 percent of them have either fully or partially reintroduced them. For logistics managers planning to improve sustainability, 50 percent said they implement environmentally friendly packaging options.
Meanwhile, executives reported that logistics technology investments will be the key to meeting demand and reducing costs amid rising demands. Nearly half of logistics managers told the company they plan to “implement and / or improve their inventory management systems and cloud infrastructure” in the next year. In addition, 42 percent said they would plan to implement or improve artificial intelligence (AI and / or machine learning, 42 percent said they would implement or improve sales and operations planning and / or sales and operations, and 41 percent said they planned to implement or improve transport systems.
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