Adapting to the fluid retail ecosystem

Global supply chain backups are forcing retailers and suppliers to take an agile approach to combat ever-shifting inputs.
19 October 2021
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From labor to inventory, the entire scope of retail has come up against full-scale roadblocks and delays. People’s spending intentions have increased, and supply chains are still trying to catch up from the huge spike in demand. In addition to demand shocks, production disruptions, labor shortages, and transport delays have deepened supply chain woes. 

To cope with uncertainty, retailers and suppliers will turn to fluid ecosystems to remain agile in the face of the following challenges: 

Demand shocks

25% of holiday shoppers plan to spend much/somewhat more in 2021 than they did in 2020, according to August 2021 ShopperScape® data.

Production disruption

Key ingredient shortages in chlorine, hydrogen, and resin are resulting in months long delays.

Labor shortages

A 50% increase in declined trucking load offers indicates more demand than supply of rigs or drivers.

Transport delays

The seven-day Suez Canal blockage cost the global economy over $50 billion.

Rising costs

Global average costs to ship a container are 500% higher than they were in September 2019.

How can industry players navigate supply chain disruptions with ever-shifting inputs? The global supply chain will inevitably become more flexible with massive investments in automation and facilities relocations, but that may take several years. In the near-term, retailers and suppliers can best prepare for disruptions by:

  • Categorizing supplier risk at every supply chain stage and diversifying with scenario planning.
  • Auditing supply chain vendors with more regular transparency.
  • Arranging warehousing for critical seasonal and promotional products.

As we approach the 2021 holiday season, the disrupted supply chain will increasingly impact retailers and their shoppers. Focus on growth areas for your business and be ready to pivot certain components of your plan to get yourself through to 2022.

Want more? Our 2021 Breakthrough Insights publication delves into challenges the retail industry is facing, with a section dedicated to the retail ecosystem and supply chain challenges.

Download our Breakthrough Insights 2021 report below.


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