A constant term in the news over recent years, it refers to a network between a company and its suppliers to produce and distribute a specific product to the final buyer. It encompasses everything from raw materials to the assembly of parts and the transport of goods to retail and even recycling.
For example, the pandemic saw lockdowns and restrictions disrupt supply chains, with closed factories and ports causing bottlenecks and shortages of various products and raw materials. But, once the world started to reopen, pent-up demand was unleashed and quickly started to outpace supply. It also upended supply chains due to labor shortages across multiple sectors, production halts due to Covid restrictions temporarily suspending some factories, as well as the closure of ports and airports, meaning supply chains had not yet rebounded to pre-pandemic levels when the geopolitical situation escalated with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Among many impacts of this war, limited oil and gas supplies have led to a surge in energy prices. In addition, it impacted the supply of chemicals and car parts like cables to the European Union, partly due to sanctions and partly due to factory closures in Ukraine.
New terms that have arisen with the rise of technology are words like omnichannel and cybersecurity. Omnichannel refers to retail that encompasses various ways of shopping, including traditional brick-and-mortar stores, e-commerce on different types of mobile devices and phones. Even some of the most traditional industries that have long resisted a move to the digital space now fully embrace the necessity of offering omnichannel. But with that, cybersecurity has gained importance in supply chains, as it has elsewhere, with cyber attacks having risen fivefold in 2021 alone.