In recent years, global supply chain outages have been at the center of global news. The cascading product shortages have affected everyone, from large industries to individual consumers faced with the now familiar sight of empty store shelves. The short-term impact of the supply chain disruption has hit all kinds of companies around the world hard. But I firmly believe that the world economy will emerge from this period stronger than before.

As a seasoned financial professional with a master’s degree in economic history, I have observed this crisis from the Front and I have also seen it from a historical point of view, and I am convinced that it will mark an important turning point in the way we do business-and think about it.

At least since the Industrial Revolution, which accelerated with the expansion of world trade, companies of all sizes have ruthlessly optimized efficiency. The quest to streamline operations has intensified in recent decades and companies are on a search and finish mission to avoid any noticeable waste or redundancy in their processes.

Although these optimizations have made it possible to achieve significant savings over many years, the systems built on them have proven fragile and can fail catastrophically when subjected to constraints. The disruptions caused by the trade debate between America and China that began in 2018, the recent times in 2020 and the debate between Russia and Ukraine in 2022 caused serious surprises to the global economy that blindly and unpreparedly hit business leaders.

This is precisely where essayist and risk analyst Nassim Talab’s concept of Antifragility comes in — the ability of a system to gain strength and resilience following stress or issue. The natural response of local, regional and global supply networks will probably be to increase their robustness to prepare for inevitable future crises. These adjustments have inevitable costs, but the need for change also offers companies the opportunity to rethink their existing ways of doing business and create stronger companies, better prepared for an increasingly uncertain future. While many companies are still struggling with immediate supply chain problems, it would be short-sighted to let the crisis pass without focusing on long-term solutions. Taking the time to step back, critically evaluate existing operations and make significant investments to improve them will almost certainly pay off down the line.

In this article, I’m going to discuss how companies of all sizes are already innovating to create more sustainable supply chains and what else you can do. Ad hoc reforms and adjustments are underway. What comes out of it will no longer be the same as before; it will be better.

Rethinking regional distribution: a matter study

In 2020, I was hired to advise an online plonk retailer based in London at the beginning of the recent times. The demand had reached levels that were impossible for my client to manage. The local plonk stores, which did not close during this period, had to find creative ways to take the business forward. They have started offering amenities such as same-day home delivery, with some merchants even cycling to customers’ homes. This fantastic supply chain customization was not a viable solution for my client, who was shipping a large amount of products via an online store.

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