Navigating the Global Supply Chain as a Small Business in 2023

For entrepreneurs and small business owners, having visibility and insight into the global supply chain is more important than ever. The COVID-19 pandemic exposed significant vulnerabilities that led to breakdowns and delays at all levels – many of which still linger years later.

To effectively manage modern supply chain disruptions in 2023, small businesses need to understand key statistics and trends across transportation, inventory, technology and more. By taking a data-driven approach, they can build resilience into their operations, identify risks ahead of time, and harness innovations that drive efficiency.

As an advisor who assists multiple growing startups with optimizing their supply chain operations, I‘ve collected up-to-date research across all facets globally and locally. These numbers showcase what the current state of affairs means for small companies.

Transport/Logistics Crucial Despite Persistent Pain Points

The movement of raw goods and finished products is the backbone of any supply chain. For small businesses selling physical items, understanding shipping and transport stats is vital.

  • Global shipping/logistics = 12% of $96 trillion GDP
  • 74% utilize 5+ transport modes — complexity magnifies volatility
  • Air cargo capacity -10%, container shipping -6% below 2019 demand levels
  • 53% now “dual-sourcing” materials to circumvent bottlenecks
  • Transport management tech market hitting $4.8 billion by 2025

While essential, persistent transportation hurdles like port congestion, driver shortages, fluctuating fuel costs, and more lead 46% of small retailers to call logistics management their top headache according to Supply Chain Drive’s SMB survey.

Advanced visibility and predictive tools can help entrepreneurs better manage volatility.

Inventory and Warehouse Modernization Accelerating

Inventory management is another critical supply chain area that technology is helping to optimize. AI and predictive analytics tools can enable precise demand forecasting and omni-channel inventory allocation.

  • 43% of SMBs do no inventory tracking currently
  • 75% plan to modernize warehouse management systems by 2025
  • AI forecasting accuracy for inventory planning up from 53% to 72% in 2 years
  • 91% improving ecommerce order fulfillment and inventory visibility

Leveraging data and emerging tech, small companies can boost productivity and slash waste through orchestrated inventory planning – crucial as holding and storage costs spike 17% this year in North America according to Logistics Management.

Software and Data Unlocking Efficiency and Agility

Integration of software, IoT sensors, cloud platforms, AI/ML, and advanced analytics is also giving entrepreneurs more control and insights.

  • 41% prioritizing improved data analysis capabilities
  • Supply chain management software topping $8.5 billion
  • 63% still not employing any tech for performance monitoring
  • 75% adding analytics/IoT since 2019 – allowing predictive pivot capability

I continually advise clients on cost-effective tools ideal for SMBs in inventory management, shipment tracking, and overall data connectivity. With real-time visibility and forecasting, supply chains become far more responsive and dynamic.

Tailoring Solutions to Regional Realities

While the statistics cover global supply chain trends, it‘s essential to tailor solutions to regional risk profiles and dynamics.

  • US long haul trucking rates up 25% year-over-year
  • Europe most heavily impacted by Ukraine/Russia conflict
  • APAC continues outpacing industry digitization adoption

Understanding localized pain points allows small businesses to implement targeted mitigation measures and technology tailored to their unique regulatory and economic situations.

The Key Takeaway

For today‘s entrepreneurs and SMB owners, leaning on data and proven technologies is key to not just surviving but driving supply chain advantage and resilience. As my clients can attest, insight and preparation are the best defenses against continuous volatility.