How Supply Chains Adapt to a New Normal

Updated: May 7

By SPESA


Over the past year, the Covid-19 pandemic tested global supply chains, revealing problems and magnifying vulnerabilities that for years went unfixed or even unnoticed. Companies have had to reevaluate how they operate with the goal of becoming more resilient and prepared for unknown hurdles on the horizon.

Behind the Seams has continued to keep a pulse on the industry during this time. And in this month’s SPESA Speaks we’ll dive into some of the key trends we’ve seen when it comes to shifts in supply chain strategy.

A Greener Way

There’s no denying it. Efforts in sustainability are here to stay. And they should be. According to a Business Insider article from 2019, the apparel industry is responsible for emitting 10% of the world’s carbon emissions. It’s also the second-largest consumer of the planet's water supply.


While some feared the pandemic would force companies to sideline efforts in sustainability, many others argue the opposite. They say Covid-19 pushed companies to pause, reset, and re-strategize, with many of them now labeling sustainability as a critical business need.

The demand for greener supply chains has a lot to do with risk management. When Covid-19 struck fast in 2020, it exposed how unprepared we are in the face of a global crisis. And what is now being recognized is that the threat of climate change has much deeper roots. This sentiment was echoed in a recent piece by WhatTheyThink’s Cary Sherburne: “…But as the frailties of the global supply chain were laid bare, and brands, retailers and suppliers alike suffered huge losses, many industry stakeholders were urging an acceleration of these plans.”


Transparency

Without a doubt, Covid-19 exposed weaknesses across supply chains — many of which were a result of a lack in supply chain transparency. It is crucial that companies gain better access and control over their full supply chains, and understand who their suppliers are, where they are located, where they source from, their risk exposure, etc.


Increasing supply chain transparency helps address the two challenges we’ve already noted: assessing supply chain risks/weaknesses and implementing sustainability initiatives. It can also limit a company’s exposu