On the heels of last year’s online shopping boom, supply chain leaders anticipate another hectic peak shipping season this year, with most anticipating an increase in sales over last year, according to a survey by third-party logistics services provider (3PL) GlobalTranz, released this week.
The survey of 200 supply chain leaders and managers found that most are confident in their e-commerce strategies as peak season gets underway, but say that ongoing labor challenges and uncertainty over how the rise of Covid-19 variants will affect business remain cause for concern.
“While the resurgence of Covid-19 has created another element of uncertainty heading into peak season, we’re seeing cautious optimism around how supply chains have adapted to the challenges of the past year,” Ross Spanier, executive vice president of direct channel at GlobalTranz, said in a statement September 2. “Businesses have put in place new supply chain strategies and established partnerships with logistics providers that can help them manage through this volatile environment.”
Roughly three quarters (76%) of decision makers surveyed said they expect their 2021 peak-season revenue will be higher than last year. They also pointed to changes that characterize this year’s busy season: 90% said they will need to increase hiring to meet customer demand; more than 70% said they’ve seen an increase in customers wanting last-mile delivery solutions and higher demand for white glove services; and 94% said that their partnerships with supply chain/logistics companies are necessary to get through peak season successfully.
When asked about how the resurgence of Covid-19 may affect their ability to meet demand: Nearly 80% said they are concerned that a resurgence will negatively impact their businesses’ supply chain operations, and more than 50% ranked future lockdowns related to Covid-19 as a top challenge.
Survey respondents also pointed to a strain on available resources and increasing costs as cause for concern. Some related challenges include: At least one-third of respondents cited supply chain congestion, rising transportation costs, workforce deficits, and potential lockdowns related to Covid-19 as top concerns; nearly half (47%) said they will be paying higher salaries or wages to both attract new talent and retain current employees before the end of the 2021 calendar year; and more than 30% noted that having enough resources to meet consumers’ demands and keeping deliveries to end-users on time will be more challenging this peak season than in 2020.
“The survey results indicate that supply chain professionals continue to adapt to a myriad of changes in the business environment and shifting consumer behavior,” Spanier also said. “Yet there is still optimism among leadership who went through the experiences of the past 18 months and are investing in the tools and partnerships that will help their businesses succeed.”