COVID-19 is a wakeup call for packaging supply chain agility

If there’s one thing the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us so far, it’s that packaging supply chains are vulnerable. Disruptions in production and shipping and rising costs are placing continuity of supply at risk. At the same time, packaging and category teams are under increasing pressure from sales and marketing departments as companies try to adapt and meet rapidly changing consumer demands. Businesses need to be agile to respond to these pressures while still ensuring continuity of packaging supply and maintaining quality control. An agile packaging supply chain will respond, rather than react, to risk and disruption. It will be able to act on contingency plans such as geographically diverse suppliers or dual sourcing by switching suppliers without interrupting continuity of supply. It will provide the company with a key competitive advantage by being able to make packaging changes quickly in response to changes in consumer demand.

How to build agility in your supply chain

There are three core elements to building supply chain agility. With these elements in place, category teams will be able to respond to changes or opportunities quickly and efficiently.

  1. Real time collaboration and information sharing across the supply chain – this ensures that critical messages aren’t missed and that stakeholders have the information they need to act.
  2. Centralized specs, artwork, and critical data – putting these mission-critical files in a central location enables revision control and makes sure everyone is using the correct file.
  3. Workflow transparency and control – automating workflows allows monitoring of key approvals and milestones so everything stays on track.

The key to bringing these three elements together into a cohesive whole is technology. The right digital platform will integrate seamlessly with existing workflows and connect team members and stakeholders anywhere in the world. It will automate and track critical processes and ensure that everyone in your supply chain has access to up-to-date information.

The bottom line – If not now, when?

If there’s one thing we’ve learned from COVID-19 so far, it’s that businesses who are willing to adapt have a better chance of surviving the crisis. Building agility in packaging procurement was a good idea before COVID-19 struck, now it’s a necessity. There’s no end in sight to the uncertainty and disruption caused by the pandemic. And as the saying goes: the only thing constant is change. Businesses who adapt to change by building agility through optimization and digital transformation will be the ones who thrive as the world heals from COVID-19.