In early 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic turned the world’s supply chains upside down nearly overnight. The manufacturing, warehousing, and distribution disruptions caused by the virus started in Asia, then rapidly expanded to Europe, North and South America, and worldwide. Borders closed, businesses shuttered, travel came to a standstill, and supplies became limited.
A year and a half later, we’re no longer actively dealing with large-scale supply shortages or disturbances. But it’s clear that our global supply chains remain vulnerable to this type of disruption. What can we learn from the pandemic to improve the resilience of our supply chains? Here are three essential warehousing lessons that will serve your business well in the future.
- Good talent is invaluable.
The pandemic highlighted how pivotal warehouse workers are to the success of a company’s operations, especially considering the exponential growth of e-commerce. The demand for talent is increasing in warehouses and distribution centers across the country, and businesses are competing to recruit, hire, and retain skilled employees. Partnering with a third-party staffing company can help avert a warehouse worker shortage that could negatively affect your order fulfillment and customer experience.
- Inventory optimization has to be ongoing.
Demand can change quickly, and your inventory management must be agile enough to adapt to sudden shifts. We saw this clearly with widespread shortages of toilet paper, hand sanitizer, surgical masks, and basic household goods in spring 2020. Demand planning — forecasting the demand for products to maintain sufficient inventory without stocking a surplus — must be an ongoing process. New technology applications can be integrated throughout your entire supply chain in warehousing, transportation, and operational staffing solutions to track, monitor, and update inventory as needed.
- Redundancy leads to resilience.
The pandemic put a supply chain spin on the old saying, “Don’t put your eggs in one basket.” Supply chains that relied on a single warehouse or fulfillment center, for example, struggled to regroup when that sole source was temporarily or permanently unavailable. Redundancy is crucial to a resilient supply chain, giving your business Plan B, Plan C, and Plan D when a crisis occurs. Working with a warehouse and distribution partner with a wide network of locations allows you to be flexible and responsive, no matter the circumstances.
Learn more about the benefits of partnering with a warehouse solutions expert.