What does the supply chain look like in 2022?

January 7, 2022

As the pandemic continues and the world becomes increasingly digitized, the supply chain will continue to experience unprecedented levels of demand. According to the U.S. Census Bureau of the Department of Commerce, eCommerce sales accounted for $214.6 billion in just quarter three of 2021. The rise in online shopping has put an immense strain on the supply chain over the past couple of years, but how will 2022 stack up?

Here are a few supply chain trends that warehouses should be on the lookout for in 2022.

Digitizing the supply chain
As eCommerce sales continue to grow, warehouse operators will need increased visibility to forecast inventory and delivery needs and deal with the rising demand. Digitizing the supply chain is one solution that many facilities are already implementing. These networks utilize electronic sensors and IoT technology to streamline workflows and data collection. This data, in turn, drives decision-making that can boost productivity and increase revenue. In 2022, we will likely see warehouses adopt blockchain technology, artificial intelligence and machine learning to further enhance their operations from both an efficiency and security standpoint.

In 2021, we saw a dramatic rise in cyberattacks, and this trend is expected to continue in 2022. While high-profile cases like Colonial Pipeline and Kaseya make headlines, cybercriminals also target smaller operations, as they often lack the necessary infrastructure to defend against security breaches. According to ZDNet, these low-scale supply chain attacks are quickly becoming a preferred target of hacker organizations, underscoring the need for improved cybersecurity. As more facilities shift to digitally connected software and equipment, these risks increase, requiring greater collaboration with IT teams and cybersecurity experts.

Resilience and agility
Creating a resilient and agile supply chain is no easy task, but it will be essential as demand rises. A warehouse's resiliency is its ability to withstand disruptions and fluctuations by developing novel solutions and leveraging data analytics to streamline processes. Some key resilience strategies we'll see moving into 2022 include diversifying suppliers and partnerships, expanding production capabilities and improving transportation methods.

Agility, on the other hand, refers to a warehouse's ability to continuously innovate its practices and procedures to deal with dynamic demands. As warehouse managers plan ahead for 2022, they should be looking for new ways to increase flexibility and swiftly respond to growing market volatility and other unforeseen disruptions.

Supply chain as a service (SCaaS)
SCaaS is a newer business model growing in popularity as it allows warehouses to partner with service providers to support all of their supply chain needs. This includes everything from procurement and manufacturing to production, quality control and logistics on top of warehousing. Some companies have even seen a return of four to five their initial investment, according to Supply Chain Brain.

Sourcing talent
A productive workforce is essential to maintaining a robust supply chain, but recent labor shortages pose an additional challenge to warehouse management. To stand out and attract recruits, organizations must consider creating career advancement opportunities, expanding benefit programs and increasing wages. Robotic automation will also increase in 2022, forcing many facilities to reskill and upskill their existing workforce to more technical positions.