changing habits of global customers since the COVID-19

Blue Yonder has published new research into the changing habits of global customers since the COVID-19 pandemic started last year. 7,000 consumers were surveyed in total across Europe and the US.

6,000 European adult consumers, and 1,000 in the US, have had their habits and behaviour analysed in a survey as Blue Yonder looks to discover how retail supply chains look set to be transformed in the coming years. The outbreak of the coronavirus has accelerated the rate of evolution in many cases, with online retail being the only option for consumers in a number of scenarios.

A key finding of the survey across both regions is that the grocery retail sector has been impacted heavily by the increasing number of consumers ordering products online. 74% of US consumers were doing more online shopping in April, up from 57% in March. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, 69% of US consumers are still purchasing goods in stores, with more than half of the respondents (54%) experiencing delays in the delivery of their products bought online.

In Europe, 64% of shoppers intend to continue spending online once the pandemic is under control. 19% of the respondents said they will visit grocery stores less than they previously did, with the figure rising to 27% for non-grocery stores.

“Online grocery delivery services have seen a big upward trend and attracted a lot of new customers, as a result of people being unable or unwilling to leave their homes. For new customers, their initial online grocery delivery experience will likely influence their repeated custom in the future, so it is crucial it is a positive one,” said JoAnn Martin, vice president of retail industry strategy at Blue Yonder.

“It is clear that both online and in-store shopping behavior will change as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Wayne Snyder, vice president of retail strategy EMEA at Blue Yonder. “On the one hand, many retailers are going to need to ramp up their online fulfilment operations to meet growing customer demand and expectations. On the other, they will need to carefully consider the changing role of their store estates in terms of supporting both their online and offline business in the future.”

58% of European consumers have spent less money on fashion retail since the beginning of the COVID-19 restrictions and lockdowns, with DIY and electronics retailers also seeing significant drops. Healthcare saw an understandable 23% increase in shoppers spending more money, however.


In blockchain we trust:knowing the source of our daily bread


Consumers are increasingly taking ethical and environmental considerations into account when making food choices.

This demand calls on the FMCG industry to show where our food comes from, the conditions in which it has been created and processes used to bring it to our plate. This, along with more tight control of origin country when it comes to imports, means that businesses are faced with the growing need to achieve transparency in their food sourcing process. 

With incidents like the 2018 romaine lettuce E.coli outbreak still fresh in the minds of the public, the need to build secure systems to trace products from farm to fork has never been so important. However, with food supply chains crossing multiple continents and many companies - from growers, to processors and packagers - making sure what comes out of the ground is what goes on your table is a huge challenge. Typically, food supply chain data is kept across many systems. This prevents food providers – not to mention consumers – from gaining a comprehensive overview of transactions. 

Blockchain offers a solution to these challenges. The immutable and permanent trail of transactions held on blockchain systems are a welcome asset in the mission for transparency across complex supply chain ecosystems. Private, permissioned blockchain, where users are verified before they can join the network, provides a unique approach to security and privacy. This allows participants to share data without revealing highly sensitive information. 


Blockchain’s role in supply chain visibility could also create real-time risk mitigation. With blockchain, it would be possible to identify exactly where in a supply chain a corrupted batch of produce became contaminated, giving suppliers the opportunity to mitigate and manage risk from travelling further along the chain. This plays a particularly important role when it comes to food, where identifying contamination quickly can literally mean the difference between life and death. 

When it comes to food, trust is vital. Again, blockchain can deliver. Permissioned blockchain is by far the most effective way to ensure the information stores can be trusted. Since blockchain has an in-built proof mechanism, data cannot be altered or tampered with, providing a single source of truth on the product’s history. With a full journey in sight, suppliers and retailers can take extra precautions over their data to improve product safety and reduce fraud. 

As solutions come to the fore, one thing is clear: the goal for supply chains to have more integrity, inclusivity and interoperability is well underway. The aforementioned E. coli outbreak in 2018 spurred the FDA to encourage a more rapid adoption of technologies to detect water source problems and usage of blockchains to better trace food to the source to improve detection and resolution. Blockchain is poised to offer the FMCG industry its most valuable tool to transform the way we consume food and deliver meaningful insights as to where our food comes from. 

Examples of Industry Projects

R3 have partnered with Ripe Technology, Inc. the innovative startup bringing blockchain to the food industry, to improve transparency and trust in food and agriculture supply chains through the digitization and enterprise adoption of blockchain. The cooperation will enable to continue its mission to build long-lasting trust and confidence in the food supply chain through a platform where everyone will be able to access transparent and reliable information on the origin, the journey, sustainability and the quality of their food. are using blockchain to produce a real story of food with complete traceability that connects the many players involved in the processing chain.

For more information on procurement, supply chain and logistics topics - please take a look at the latest edition of Supply Chain Digital magazine.

Follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter.

By Charley Cooper, Managing Director at R3


DHL’s innovation center driving digitalisation and sustaina

DHL’s innovation center driving digitalisation and sustainability

By GEORGIA WILSON . Dec 02, 2019, 3:50PM

Supply Chain Digital takes a closer look at some of the highlights from its visit to DHL’s innovation center in Troisdorf, Bonn.

To unveil its 2025 strategy, DHL invited Supply Chain Digital to its innovation center in Troisdorf, Bonn, where the company showcased its latest innovations within logistics.

During a tour of the innovation center, conducted by Markus Kückelhaus, VP of Innovation and Trend Research, Kückelhaus highlighted the key trends within logistics and DHL’s latest innovations.

To ‘deliver excellence in a digital world’ DHL is focusing on four core areas for its 2025 strategy which include: globalisation, digitalisation, e-commerce and sustainability.

Sustainability - DHL aims to achieve zero emissions by 2050. At the center, Kückelhaus showcased its innovation of the ‘street scooter’ a 100% electrical vehicle for the transportation of deliveries. The innovation was born out of an initiative from the  who initially started developing electric bikes. Today, DHL has over 10,000 electric vans on the road that vary in size (small, large and extra-large). The small street scooter at the innovation center has a reach of 80km, more than enough for urban deliveries.

Digitalisation - A technology lover’s dream! Within the innovation center Kückelhaus demonstrated a multitude of digital innovations from robotics, to blockchain, automation and digital twins. 

  • ‘Follow Me’ robot: reducing the need for long distance walking to improve safety and drive productivity. DHL is utilising easy to use robotics that learns from its environment to reduce the need for and time spent on long distance walking within the warehouse.
  • Neo Avidbots and Sawyer robot: to reduce repetitive tasks such as packaging and unsociable hours tasks such as cleaning, DHL has been harnessing robotics to drive more engaging roles that better utilise an employee’s talents. 
  • Picking vests and vision picking glasses: by utilising the concept of Alexa technology and augmented reality, DHL is driving hands free picking within logistics, for a safer workplace. 

"What sets us apart is our drive to track down innovation and bring the results quickly and comprehensively into operation. Attracting new talents is a crucial step towards adapting to the digitalization of the logistics industry. Equally important is committing to data-backed, agile collaboration and balancing customers' demand for fast and transparent services with businesses' need to reduce costs. With Strategy 2025 we aim for putting our people and customers first and maximizing the pace of product roll-outs to take these opportunities head on,” commented Markus Voss, CIO and COO, DHL Global Supply Chain.

Facts and Figures, DHL innovation center, Troisdorf, Bonn:

  • Inaugurated: 2007 (revamped in 2015)
  • Visitors per year: 8,000
  • No. of employees: 25 (including DHL Trend Research)


Five pillars to build a supply chain talent strategy

Five pillars to build a supply chain talent strategy


With digital transformation and innovation disrupting supply chain planning, we take a look at Gartner's five key pillars to build a talent strategy.

In order to better support digital transformation within the supply chain industry, traditional approaches to recruiting talent must go through its own transformation in order to offset current talent shortages within supply chain. 

Founded in 1979, Gartner is a leading research and advisory company, providing business insights, advice and tools for senior leaders to achieve mission-critical priorities. Below, we take a closer look at its five talent strategy pillars for supply chain planning.

1. Role-based capabilities

First things first - communication. Though it might seem obvious, with a 60% growth in technology skill requirements in non-IT jobs, articulating the skills, competencies and experience required from a candidate, is a fundamental foundation needed in order to be successful. 

“Focus on a shortlist of the most critical capabilities your organisation will need to remain competitive in the next two to five years. This might include competencies such as curiosity, collaboration or data-driven decision-making. Candidates should display the majority of these capabilities, but there should be room for development on the job as well,” said Caroline Chumakov, principal analyst with the Gartner Supply Chain Practice.

2. Career pathways 

Recent Gartner surveys have identified that within SCP the lack of a defined career path is a direct correlation to employees seeking employment elsewhere. So when it comes to “building career pathways, allow for lateral movements both within the planning organisation and across other functions,” highlights Ms. Chumakov, who adds that “the challenge is twofold: creating the opportunity and then making sure that people see it and know what it takes to chart the path.”

3. Learning and development

When it comes to fostering learning and development Gartner highlights that one of the most effective ways is the use of the ‘70-20-10 model’. 

The model’s concept outlines:

  • 70% should be on the job learning and development via ‘learning interventions’ (i.e. stretch assignments and job rotation.)
  • 20% should be relationship-based learning and development (i.e. mentoring and sharing with peers.)
  • 10% should be formal training sessions (i.e. certficiations and classroom training.)

4. Recruiting and onboarding

An expansion on ‘role-based capabilities’ is recruiting and onboarding. Gartner highlights the importance of communication when it comes to identifying talent pools, with emphasis on key attraction drivers.

In addition to communication, consistency throughout not only recruiting and onboarding but the entire talent strategy is also a key factor to consider.

5. Performance management

A simple yet effective way to measure and reward employees in order to drive successful performance and create tailored development plans that balance: business needs, the current performance of an employee and the employee's career aspirations.

Did you know? Gartner recently held its Gartner Supply Chain Planning Summit, during which the company’s analysts explained these five key pillars to build a talent strategy.  

Why now is the moment for warehouse modernisation

Why now is the moment for warehouse modernisation


Paul Reed, Enterprise Mobile Computing Regional Product Manager, EMEA, Zebra Technologies, discusses, why now is the time to modernise warehousing.

With the end of extended support by Microsoft™ Windows® Embedded Handheld in January 2020 and support for Windows Embedded Compact 7 ending a year later, now is the time to plan your device modernisation strategy. These end-of-support dates expose Windows mobile devices now in use in warehouses to potential security issues and limit future software and wireless concern resolution. Add to this the inevitable decline in aging hardware performance and missed performance gains that come with new warehouse devices. While this is prompting warehouse leaders to reassess their mobile device strategies, now is a good time to introduce more automation into the warehouse.

A key finding from Zebra’s Warehouse Vision Study is the extent that consumers push for reduced delivery times is impacting warehouse operations – 46% of respondents cite this as the main driver behind their growth plans. The research highlights greater demands on warehouses: 86% of respondents expect to expand shipping volumes; and 81% are investing in returns handling. These trends mean that more space is needed – 87% of respondents are looking to extend sites and 82% to build more. To keep pace, warehouses will need to ‘staff-up’. Industry projections indicate that worker numbers will need to grow by 17% to 44.6mn. Indeed, recruitment and retention are hot topics as 60% of those surveyed are concerned about these.

There is a strong reason to invest in warehouse modernisation projects as 80% of survey respondents plan to invest in technology to stay competitive. Interestingly, 70% believe that human involvement will remain in workflows. This explains the high number (77%) who say that augmenting workers with technology is the best way to introduce automation into the warehouse. Just under three quarters (70%) are planning to do this by giving staff new mobile devices.

While the end of extended support for Windows® Embedded Handheld and Embedded Compact 7 plays a role here, there is a wider recognition that new technology can boost productivity: 43% of decision makers believe that a modern operating system, such as Android™, will improve staff efficiencies and 39% think that it will help them adjust more quickly to complex tasks.

While warehouse leaders understand the potential of new technology, 77% of respondents admit that they are slow to implement it. So, if you’re thinking about rolling out new devices, here are some ideas about how to ease the warehouse modernisation process, and some of the benefits you can expect to see. 

Facilitating New Mobile Device Roll Out 

When discussing Android migration, customers often express concerns about rewriting apps. Typically, their legacy Terminal Emulation (TE) apps have been refined over many years and are still appropriate for warehouse workflows. With this in mind, enterprises should have access to:

  • TE support: warehouse mobile computers include an integrated application to run existing TE apps which gives complete flexibility to migrate apps to devices’ native operating system when the time is right. For example, the Velocity application from Ivanti is pre-loaded on the majority of Zebra® mobile computers and pre-licensed on some (including MC9300, MC3300 Gun and VC80x/ VC8300). This gives a simple way to move to green screen TE on Android, while also offering future application modernisation.
  • Longer device support lifecycle: Zebra OneCare® Support Services with LifeGuard™ for Android™ ensure customers get predictable and dependable 3-5 year security updates needed to maximise expected enterprise uptime on Zebra Android devices. 

New mobile devices deliver a range of benefits such as being more comfortable, lighter and easier to use which reinforces 88% of survey respondents’ feedback which stated worker comfort and ergonomics as top priorities. Key features such as integrated, best-in-class barcode scanning have become more advanced to accelerate and streamline workflows by enabling fast, first-time, accurate, data entry and capture, over longer distances including illegible barcodes. Warehouse worker morale improves when they have devices that are instinctive, easy and comfortable to use which consequently reduces the training time required. This is especially important where high numbers of temporary or seasonal workers are employed. Looking ahead, the increased capability of mobile devices means that they can easily adapt to future business strategies such as supporting the introduction of augmented reality guided picking apps. 



Blockchain and the supply chain By ANDY WALKER .


Blockchain and the supply chain

By ANDY WALKER . Oct 27, 2019, 7:00AM

Blockchain – it’s been the buzzword for the last few years, infiltrating mainstream lexicon alongside ‘Big Data’, ‘internet of things’ and ‘artificial intelligence’.

You’ve probably seen it in headlines, in articles and even dropped into the occasional business meeting. More recently, ‘blockchain’ is increasingly becoming paired with ‘supply chain’, as interest is beginning to build as to whether it has the potential to unlock untapped value in the supply chain and logistics industry.   

What is ‘blockchain’?

Unlike other buzzwords, ‘blockchain’ isn’t quite so self-explanatory, so – first things first. What is blockchain, and what does it do?

To put it simply; digital information forms the ‘block’ part, and a public database is the ‘chain’. Put them together, and blockchain is a technology which can validate, record and distribute transactions in encrypted – but decentralised – ledgers. It was invented in 2008 to support bitcoin – a digital cryptocurrency which operates independently from a bank.

Accessible to hundreds of thousands of linked computers all over the world, every transaction is recoded on a block and multiple copies of the ledger, meaning records can’t be altered retroactively without the alteration of the subsequent blocks. This makes blockchain highly transparent. It’s also highly secure, as not only are the transactions and ledgers encrypted but because they aren’t contained in one central location, they don’t have a single point of failure for hackers to infiltrate. 

But, is there value for supply chain?

The value for supply chain

Clearly, blockchain attributes of security and transparency are hugely beneficial for supply chain, especially the latter. Modern day supply chains are now incredibly complex, comprised of dozens of components; production, procurement, logistics, sales, customers – to name a few – and with so many components, tracking a product’s journey from start to finish can prove tricky. The FMCG industry, for example, has incredible webs of supply chains spanning the globe, which include thousands of growers, farmers, packagers and result in a product which has changed hands hundreds of times before it reaches the shelves.

By strengthening the traceability, in situations such as product recalls or quality problems, organisations could isolate the issue efficiently and accurately, minimising cost spend trying to locate the root of the problem. For example; Walmart plans to use blockchain to pinpoint the culprit in future food-safety scares, and Nestle is already using blockchain to track the provenance of food ingredients in a number of products.

And traceability Isn’t just an FMCG benefit; blockchain could prove a revolutionary tool in the fight against counterfeit drugs in the pharmaceutical industry. All parties could track the medicine through its entire supply chain lifecycle, with the ledger noting if medicines are altered or counterfeit drugs are introduced. One Oliver Wight pharmaceuticals customer, Novartis, has been dabbling with blockchain since 2016 and plans to utilise it for exactly this purpose.

Increased visibility is also appealing to the ‘conscious consumer’, who wants to be certain that the products they’re purchasing have been ethically sourced and made. This is getting big billion-dollar organisations interested; Mastercard announced investment in blockchain to enable customers to trace where products are made – jeans, for example – and to allow them to tip the creator.

Is it really necessary?    

However, blockchain isn’t a faultless solution, and it’s certainly not the only one if the main goal is to improve supply chain visibility and efficiency. And application of blockchain in a business context is also complicated. Organisations have to have the resources and IT capabilities to establish their own ‘members-only private blockchain’, which is accessible to only an invited network. A ‘public network’ isn’t suitable for enterprise, as it’s theoretically accessible to any computer connected to the internet. Additionally, an absence of supply chain blockchain standards adds further complications – which encryption technology to use, for example.

In truth, blockchain is ‘a nice to have, but not a must-have’ – at least, not at the moment. Instead, organisations can encourage visibility and transparency across the supply chain by integrating supply chain into the wider organisational framework through a business planning process, such as Integrated Business Planning (IBP). By reviewing and restructuring the supply chain to effectively serve the front-end, from the consumer all the way back through to the suppliers' suppliers, organisations can achieve similar results without the technical complexities that blockchain can raise.