Unprecedented demand surges and massive supply disruption have characterised global supply chains since the outbreak of COVID-19. For example, during China Spring Festival (Jan 24th– Feb 2nd), there was a surge in online fresh food orders, with a 215% increase, of which meat orders saw an increase of 10x or more. And it wasn’t just grocery supply chains that were feeling the strain. The demand for medical resources understandably escalated, adding huge pressures on supply chain capabilities.
Despite these pressures, the supply networks in China managed to keep on delivering under lockdown. How did they achieve this and, as other global supply chain centres seek to rebound after the pandemic, what does this tell us about the use of digital innovations across the end-to-end supply chain process?
When the outbreak of COVID-19 shifted customers’ shopping behaviors to online channels, advanced, high precision demand forecasting helped some companies in China meet the huge demand surge. For example, leading e-commerce company JD used its systems to perform best-in-class demand forecasting under crisis leveraging inputs such as historical demand, previous emergencies’ demand patterns (e.g. SARS), search index from social media and data on the spread of the pandemic.