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F3 chat: Supply chain crunch drives demand for greater transparency

‘You have to have better and smarter information at your fingertips,’ says p44’s Adam Compain

This fireside chat recap is from Day 3 of FreightWaves’ F3 Virtual Experience.

TOPIC: Driving forces behind supply chain disruptions.

DETAILS: The shift to e-commerce has tightened delivery expectations, creating new pressures across all supply chains and requiring a greater use of data and technology.

SPEAKERS: Adam Compain is SVP of marketing and supply chain insights at project44, and Kevin Hill is the executive publisher of FreightWaves.

BIO: Prior to his role as global head of marketing and head of supply chain insights for project44, Compain was the founder and CEO of ClearMetal, a company that enabled supply chain organizations to optimize logistics and provide customers with easy access to live shipment information. ClearMetal was acquired by project44 in May.


“Over the last few decades, the supply chain has built larger capacity into the system, but what’s happened, especially with the rise of e-commerce, is that demand is far outstripping the capacity we have. There are really two sides to the way that data enters into this: You can operate more efficiently, and at the same time, when it comes to things like opening up ports for 24 hours, there isn’t this pure flow because utilizing assets like labor, trucks and chassis is a tricky challenge, and in addition to brute force, you have to have better and smarter information at your fingertips. So it’s not just about operating more efficiently as a carrier or 3PL or partner, but also ensuring the front-line logistics professionals have the right information and the right insight. Because at the end of the day, every decision they’re making relies on some piece of information or some data.”

“At the start of COVID, especially in lockdown, people began ordering more things online and that didn’t cease. It seems to be the new order of the world. The hidden challenge here is that whether companies are in e-commerce or whether they’re the most industrial of suppliers, the demand for immediate product delivery has rippled across all supply chains. The things businesses are now doing to differentiate themselves from the competition are putting even more strains on the supply chains. That is challenging operators to work in a way they never have before. They are finding themselves in an entirely new game and finding themselves needing new tools that they haven’t had in their hands before.”

“If you think about the number of vessels sitting off the ports … this is going to result in challenges for retailers. But a lot of the inventory and goods people want for the holidays is prepositioned and ordered in advance. So I don’t think there should be panic. There will be goods on the shelves for Black Friday. But at the same time, it is absolutely going to be a challenge. [Retailers] need to be able to not only see where their inventory and goods are, but also make that transparent to their customers. There’s an interesting statistic if you look at last-mile research: When a retailer has a delay, the customer actually rates the brand higher when the issue is resolved appropriately and proactively than if there was no issue.”