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As we approach 2024, it’s crucial for businesses in APAC to brace for a series of transformative changes that will impact the logistics and supply chain industry. The global economy is expected to stabilise and recover over the next year, with the World Trade Organization estimating a 3.3% growth in global trade. If you are still in the midst of working on your 2024 strategy, we’ve put together a list of insights and industry updates that you should consider when preparing for the year ahead:
Fuel Price Volatility:
According to a recent Forbes article on trends for shipping and logistics globally in 2024, apart from stubbornly high inflation in economic headwinds, fuel prices have also seen a dramatic increase in Q3 of 2023. This is mostly attributed to OPEC+ countries reducing global oil production because of a decrease in demand. This rise in fuel costs is likely to continue affecting the industry well into 2024, which is an essential consideration for planning your 2024 strategy.
Cargo Capacity Challenges:
In November, Maersk highlighted that cargo capacity will continue to be a significant challenge in 2024. During the pandemic the demand for roll-on/roll-off was reduced as not many consumers were buying personal vehicles, but now as demand begins to increase again, cargo that would usually be on roll-on/roll-off will likely move to containerised shipping or multipurpose vessels. With the anticipated change in volumes, it is expected that managing capacity will have a direct impact on logistics over the next 12 – 18 months.
Automation and (Big) Data Intelligence:
An emerging trend in 2023/2024 is the increased automation of supply chain operations and building data analytics for predictive insights to support data-driven decision-making. Businesses are recognising the competitive advantage of automating functions from warehouse management to inventory tracking. The technological shift towards digitalisation is playing a big role in making trade paperless which will help with further adoption of automation. This is set to revolutionise the industry by enhancing efficiency and reducing errors. Businesses are also leveraging predictive analytics to anticipate future supply chain challenges and opportunities. Predictive analytics will help supply chain businesses make proactive decisions based on what’s likely to happen next week or next month, not just what happened last quarter.
Resilience, Agility, and Sustainability:
McKinsey emphasises three new long-term transformation priorities for supply chains to take into account while planning for 2024 and beyond: resilience, agility, and sustainability. Resilience addresses the need to withstand and negotiate disruptions, agility prepares companies to meet rapidly evolving consumer needs, and sustainability supports the transition to a cleaner and more socially just economy. Included in sustainability is anticipated changes in ESG regulation along with an increase in consumer demand for greater visibility/traceability. These priorities reflect a shift from traditional cost-minimisation strategies to a more dynamic, responsive, and ethical supply chain management, and should be considered key points to carving out a competitive advantage in the coming years.
Risk Management and Labour Shortages:
The industry is still grappling with mitigating risks and managing labour shortages. McKinsey also suggests that companies will need to increase their understanding of vulnerabilities beyond their direct suppliers, as most disruptions originate in deeper supply chain tiers. Creative staffing strategies and robust risk management tools will be vital for navigating these challenges impacting not just tier 1 suppliers, but the entire supply chain in the coming years.
Consumer-Driven Market Dynamics:
With a significant percentage of consumers having changed their shopping behaviours during the pandemic, the ripple effects have been felt worldwide. The demand for agility in supply chains has never been higher as consumer preferences and the popularity of brands can shift overnight due to viral content or changes in shopping habits to align with personal values. Future supply chains will need to be much more dynamic—and be able to predict, prepare, and efficiently respond to rapidly evolving consumer demand.
Staying ahead of the trends is vital to remaining competitive in the market. Investing in partnerships and technology that enable and support agility and resilience, developing strategies to manage identified risks – such as higher fuel costs or capacity issues, and quickly adapting to consumer demands will better position your business for success. Furthermore, an emphasis on sustainability will not only prepare you for regulatory changes but also position your business as a leader in a forward-thinking and environmentally-conscious market.