LinkedInPreparing for the future? Think the long game

  • Feb 8, 2021

Implementing an enhanced supply chain strategy to support digital can result in short-term pain, however, long-term benefits are both clear and measurable.

Australia witnessed recording-breaking online spending habits in 2020, well beyond anyone’s expectations. In March 2020, upon the global pandemic declaration, online sales began to soar, driven by an increase of people being homebound due to imposed lockdowns. This resulted in drastic changes to not only what we buy, but how.

Initial statistics

  • 11 March World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic
  • The following week saw online sales up 28% YOY
  • Online sales reach 135% YOY in the week after Easter*
To put the above figures into perspective, an average of 2.5 million households purchased something online each week in 2020, compared to 1.6 million households in 2019.*

Even as initial restrictions began to ease throughout the course of the year, the e-commerce trend did not return to its original “normal”. Between the months of March to November 2020, total online sales had risen to well over 50%, continuing into December during the annual cyber sales, resulting in a monthly average increase of 45% year on year.

Much has been speculated about the future of digital retail spending in recent months, with some defining the e-commerce period of 2020 as the accelerant for what was always to come. Others are more conservative, indicating the recent trends are an exception only, not the rule – driving uncertainty into what supply chains should look like and how agile they should be.

My belief is somewhat of a contradiction to the above, in that what has been frequently contextualized as a COVID story, I believe, to be more broadly, an e-commerce story.
Why you might ask?

Volatility, longevity, and uncertainty surrounding online retail have existed well before COVID and will continue well after. The only consistent and reliable trend is continuing uncertainty. So, if consumer spending and customer loyalty have confounded even the most adept economists, how are businesses to prepare for the future?

The worst decision is indecision

Consistent within any environment or variables across the supply chain is the need to act decisively or risk being left behind. In my experience, I have witnessed many companies who have been overly cautious to commit to ambitious increases in digital estimates, subsequently be swiftly superseded by their competitors.

Implementing an enhanced supply chain strategy to support digital can result in some short-term pain; however, the long-term gains are both clear and measurable. For any companies who have a future digital plan in progress, my advisement would be to expedite this, in line with the following.

  • Engage with industry specialists early to assist in planning and measurement to ensure success.
  • Understand your thresholds of manual vs. automatic.
  • Set expectations that there may be short-term pain and implement strategies and communication to support the broader business.

The decision to act and invest can, without a doubt, be incredibly onerous and complex. However, the conclusion of what I have frequently observed is that the alternative is a higher risk in an unchanged environment of e-commerce uncertainty.

For more information on how to optimize your supply chain, contact our Business Solutions Specialists.

Cory Saunders

Cory Saunders

Executive General Manager of Intralogistics, DAIFUKU OCEANIA
Commencing his career with Daifuku in 2010, Cory has worked across a diverse range of roles including business delivery, supply chain, engineering and sales. This formative background since led to Cory’s ascension into senior roles within the business, where he is recognized for his exceptional leadership. Cory’s role requires him to take end-to-end ownership of solution development, strategy, business development, project realization, and providing ongoing services and support for the intralogistics market.

About Daifuku Oceania

Founded in 1993 originally as BCS Group Ltd., the company joined the Daifuku Group in 2014 and rebranded to Daifuku Oceania in 2020. Daifuku Oceania is headquartered in New Zealand and also has offices in Australia.

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