COVID-19 is having a massive impact on the economy. The future of business remains unclear and leaders are faced with hard decisions to mitigate risk, protect their margins and survive through the pandemic and beyond.

As consumers become more accustomed to a new way of engaging with brands, weaknesses in many supply chains have been uncovered. Procurement, as we know it won’t be the same post COVID, companies who rely on a global supply base are vulnerable, and organisations who provide commodities or services within that chain will begin to feel the pressure in maintaining their market position.

The current model in most industries is flawed; we buy cheap, which in most cases means buying overseas. We only tolerate higher prices if it means getting products faster or if there is a profitable demand.

Post COVID, I expect to see buying attitudes change to be more flexible; logistics hubs will prosper as demand for locally available products increase, and automation will drop down the agenda as businesses rely on human intervention to help with recovery.

Why are customers changing?

Because import and export processes aren’t sustainable
Oversees manufacturers play a huge part in the global supply chain but with travel and shipment restrictions COVID has tested the movement of products which has had a huge impact. As complex as it would be, I see a purposeful shift to regional sourcing, not just in a post-COVID world, but in response to Brexit (remember that?).

Because business can’t plan for disasters without supply chain transparency
No one saw COVID coming so businesses couldn’t prepare… but disaster response will now be on every business agenda. Visibility of forecasting and availability will be essential in the new world to mitigate the risk of future supply chain disruption. No matter the provision, procurement leaders will demand to see evidence of uninterrupted service.

Because automation has been relied upon too heavily
When leaders first heard whispers the virus they acted… but naturally, automated technology didn’t respond as quickly. Although automation has been on the minds of business leaders for a while now, the pandemic has showcased that people are at the heart of decision making, quick response and business continuity.

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One of Cordant’s key customers has seen it’s highest non-seasonal peak in decades, and although recognised for their automation, the demand was more than their ‘robotics’ could respond to – instead they ramped up recruitment, and in the period from March to May 2020, we’re currently payrolling 21.5 operatives in one national contract. People delivered that!

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COVID-19 has revealed flaws in the globalised procurement system and in order to respond, we need to fundamentally rethink our supply chains. In the face of both COVID and BREXIT, could the protection and growth of the UK economy be achieved with local supply chains? Modifying the supply chain, and having people spearheading change could be the most important factor for an agile business to succeed beyond the current market challenges.