Inbound Logistics | January 2022


No Congestion Relief in Sight It’s shaping up to be another congested year for global supply chains as the ongoing pandemic keeps consumers from spending on services versus goods, exacerbating resource shortages and delays. Logistics services providers must view this as a longer-term situation and plan accordingly, says a recent report from Descartes Systems Group. U.S. ocean container import volumes will remain high in 2022, which indicates similar levels of disruption as 2021. While December 2021 was the second month in a row with declining container import volumes ( see chart ), it was still a record month, with volumes up 1% from 2020 and 25% from 2019. Consumer behavior is driving a high ratio of goods-to-services expenditures and doesn’t appear to be changing. Volumes in 2021 were 18% higher than 2020 and 22% higher than 2019. When considering the extent of the increase, delays and disruption were inevitable, the report says.

RETAILERSBRUSH UPONRETURNS With increased e-commerce adoption, returns are set to grow exponentially in 2022 and beyond, says a recent report from Incisiv, and retailers’ digital experience plays a big part in both reducing returns and making the return experience seamless. Retailers can achieve significant savings and enhanced customer satisfaction if they look at returns as an integral part of their supply chain strategy. Key findings of the report reveal: • Health and beauty retailers offer the most advanced functionality around product information and guided content, reducing the occurrence of returns based on poor product details. • Although 60% of retailers allow shoppers to cancel an order before it ships, only 16% allow order modifications. • The apparel segment is the most mature when it comes to offering flexible returns. They typically allow online orders to be returned in stores, and 90% allow replacement or exchanges. • Leading retailers offer more flexible return policies, including as a special

U.S. Container Import Volume Increases 2019-2021

Jan. Feb. Mar. Apr. May Jun. Jul. Aug. Sep. Oct. Nov. Dec. 2.9 2.7 2.5 2.3 2.1 1.9 1.7 1.5




Source: Descartes Datamyne

Although executives who dream up new products, market expansions, or patents typically get all the praise, the pandemic and its disruptions have made getting items to shoppers a more complex and crucial task, says a Fortune report. The fluctuating demand for consumer goods and ships idling in major West Coast ports have only added to the challenge. As a result, a new hero has emerged: the chief supply chain officer (CSCO). Supply chain management is a core competency within companies that creates competitive advantage if done well, the report says. The role’s focus has gone from cost control in production and shipping to shaping strategy. CSCOs have been on the rise for a while as companies diversify production and face mounting complexities presented by e-commerce, which involves faster delivery times and far more touch points in a distribution system, the report says. In 2016, 71 new CSCO roles had been created at S&P 1500 firms between 2000 and 2012. Now, 85 companies have a CSCO or someone with a title filling a similar role, according to an analysis of S&P 500 filings and websites by Equilar and Fortune. Toughest Job in the C-Suite

benefit for loyal shoppers. One- quarter of retailers have return windows greater than 60 days.

• As shoppers demand more convenient return options, new and differentiating capabilities are emerging. Some have chat bots that help shoppers initiate returns, and allow shoppers to return items curbside.

44 Inbound Logistics • January 2022

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