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Global Economy 2023: Three Ways The Pandemic Forced Companies To Rethink And Transform

The global supply chains that modern companies depend on were turned upside down three years ago after COVID-19 emerged in China. The spread of the new respiratory illness and efforts to slow it resulted in shortages of everything from toilet paper and prescription drugs to refrigerators and semiconductors. Even today, retailers continue to struggle to keep some products, including household items like Tylenol and eggs, in stock. Overall stress in supply chains remains high.

Because shortages, delays and bottlenecks can hurt their bottom line, many companies that didn’t go bust during the pandemic have been rethinking their supply chains and implementing changes to make them more resilient.

As a supply chain expert, I have observed three major shifts in how companies manage their supply chains—changes that will significantly affect consumers and businesses alike.

1. Bringing Supply Chains Home

One of the main downsides of having supply chains that span the globe is that they are more vulnerable to problems outside of a company’s control, such as an earthquake that strikes a key supplier or a citywide lockdown that shuts down factories.

That’s why companies in every industry have been working to relocate suppliers and production facilities closer to home or geographically spreading them out so that they’re not so dependent on one country or region. The goal is to ensure they can withstand disruptions and maintain business continuity.

The pace of reshoring—the process of shifting production and manufacturing to domestic locations from overseas factories—has surged in recent years. Over 60% of European and U.S. manufacturing companies expect to reshore part of their Asia production in the next three years, according to a survey conducted in early 2022.

A more recent survey found that U.S. transport and manufacturing reshored about 350,000 jobs in 2022, up 25% from the previous year.

This trend not only has support from government subsidies but retailers as well. Walmart, one of the world’s biggest retailers, has committed to help its suppliers reshore by increasing its purchases of U.S.-made products by US$350 billion over the next decade. In the U.K., a survey of 750 small businesses found

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