A report recently issued by Chicago-based project44, a technology services provider offering standardized, secure Web service API (application programming interfaces) integrations enabling 3PLs and shippers to connect with carriers in real time, examines various ways in which global businesses are handling increasing urgency and pressure to bring customers what it called a superior delivery experience, coupled with augmenting environmental sustainability and efforts related to data security.
The report, entitled “Is 2020 the End of the Delivery Economy: Delivery Expectations Continue to Grow Despite Global Challenges,” is based on a survey of 1,000 customers and 600 supply chain professionals in the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, and France.
The theme of customers with high expectations, especially in light of current economic conditions driven by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, was driven home in the report, with 83% of the survey’s customer respondents indicating they do not expect companies to give up fast delivery in an economic downturn, even though 55% of supply chain professionals noted they were unprepared for a downturn and could have done far more to prepare.
“There were talks of an economic downturn long before the pandemic, but we all thought we had a bit more time,” said Christian Piller, project44 VP Value Engineering, in an interview. “Businesses can effectively plan for an economic downturn because they have happened before, playbooks can be opened and standard operating procedures executed. However, businesses did not have that luxury with the pandemic. There are still a lot of manual, tedious processes within the supply chain, and it has historically been easier to deprioritize everything else to achieve the low-cost, fast and transparent delivery that customers demand. Moving forward, workflow automation is the only option that will free up supply chain leaders to be more strategic in future planning.”
Running an environmentally sustainable operation was viewed as a high priority for customers, regardless of economic conditions, with the report observing that it will be imperative to create sustainable delivery methods and not sacrifice operational efficiency.
What’s more, the report found that 78% of customer respondents indicated that they would be more likely to make purchases from companies that prioritize sustainability in the delivery process. This was described as a good thing by project44’s Piller.
“We hope customers continue to lead supply chains down this righteous path that is focused on social impact,” he said. “Supply chains have the ability to be one of the biggest strategic levers companies have and are the most logical first step companies can take toward sustainability. Transitioning from manual, tedious processes to automation will be the catalyst to swiftly unlock change and it’s one of the easiest to implement. High-fidelity data helps shippers be more efficient with decision-making, reduce wait times, and be more efficient with sourcing and inventory decisions. Customers maintain the visibility and transparency they want while supply chains are less wasteful—it makes sense.”
Addressing data security, the report stressed that meeting the demand for improved data security and evaluation practices, as data volume and sharing continues to grow with the rise of the Delivery Economy, at a time when supply chains are unprepared evaluate the security of third parties.
That was evident, with the report finding that 82% of customers indicated that companies need to do more to protect the security of their personal data.
Jay Friedman, project44 Director of Information Security, said that there are many data security practices companies need to consider and implement for their organization, as well as the vendors and partners they use.
“One gap uncovered by the report is how supply chains are evaluating their vendors and partners,” said Friedman. “A key step they can take is ensuring they have the necessary security requirements in place for their technology providers. For example, requiring providers comply with a widely recognized information security standard (i.e. SOC2), asking them to complete a standard security questionnaire before making a purchase, and ensuring they comply with the necessary data security and privacy regulations (i.e. GDPR).”