Many countries have been forced to take measures to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic to keep people safe. Without a doubt, such measures are highly disruptive to business operations, particularly to the interconnected supply chain around the world.
According to a survey by the Institute for Supply Management, supply chains in different regions have been affected to varying degrees, with 6% of the respondents being disrupted in early March. By the end of the month, drastic disruptions were being reported in North America (15%), Japan (17%), Europe (24%) and China (38%)1.
Shipping, for instance, can be greatly affected by closing for any period of time, with eMarketer reporting that 47% of companies would not be able to continue shipments within 2 weeks of closing a facility2. In addition, Orion Market Research reports that the manufacturing industry is encountering bottlenecks in the supply chain both nationally and internationally – especially in areas severely hit by the pandemic2.
Growth and investment impact
Almost all the countries affected by the pandemic are focusing on fulfilling the high demand for medicines, pharmaceuticals, medical supplies and equipment. This shift has reduced demand for other raw materials and many other traded commodities. Therefore, sectors delivering non-essential goods have been seriously hit with lesser or zero demand during the pandemic. This has influenced the movement of goods across nations and created a substantial gap in supply and demand.
Due to the uncertainties created by the pandemic, forecasts on the imminent economic state are not available yet3. In 2018, the worth of the global supply chain market was at $14.5 billion, growing at a CAGR of 10.5%, and was expected to reach almost $24 billion by 2024. But due to the disruptions brought by the pandemic, this growth is expected to decrease. To make matters worse, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) estimated that the global foreign direct investment will decrease by 5% to15% due to downfall in the manufacturing sector coupled with factory shutdowns.
This pandemic has exposed the need to create a sustainable supply chain across the globe. Now more than ever, manufacturers need to be more agile to survive and remain competitive. However, many fail to create a future-proof plan that will help them mitigate the challenges brought by a crisis like COVID-19.
The manufacturing industry needs to take concrete steps to succeed, starting with investments in solutions that help them navigate any drastic changes in supply and demand. To mitigate the effects of shifting demand in the future, manufacturers must learn from the changes brought by the pandemic, and work to preserve their consumer base by meeting consumers where and how they want to shop. This requires them to be able to deliver accurate, complete, rich and up-to-date product content across channels, so they can offer the product experiences that customers will seek during, and after times of crisis.