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Survey Report

Logistics Supply Chain Risk Report 2023

April 3, 2023

WTW surveyed 100 senior decision makers in leading logistics companies globally, to understand their supply chain risks and challenges, their organization’s approach to risk management and what future supply chains will look like.
Credit and Political Risk|Cyber Risk Management|Facultative|Marine
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Learning the lessons of distruption

Without logistics most supply chains would grind to a halt, as the world discovered during the pandemic.

As we emerge into more normal trading conditions, businesses across industry are looking to logistics providers to help them improve and optimize how they move and store goods between their supply chain nodes.

Meanwhile, logistics companies face their own supply chain challenges, including workforce issues, rising wage demands, global geopolitical and trade tensions and pressure to decarbonize transportation.

How are logistics businesses adapting?

To find out how the sector is navigating this changing landscape, we surveyed 100 risk and supply chain leaders, from freight forwarders to shipping lines, airfreight operators and trucking companies.

How do they see the supply chain landscape? How are they building resilience? What are the main challenges and risks they face? And what will the supply chains of the future look like?

Ripple effect increases risk burden for logistics

Logistics is at the core of every industry’s supply chain. That means the sector’s risks are multiplied.

From cyber-attacks to extreme weather, firms need to worry not only about their own operations, but also the knock-on impact on their customers and how that might rebound on them.

Cyber risks

In our survey, cyber risks were believed to have the most profound impact on supply chains, rated by 58% as medium and 31% high impact.

58% believe cyber risks to have medium impact on supply chains and 31% said it would have high impact.

Freight companies are sharing more data with partners and customers than ever before, while the number of parties in logistics chains, often using linked systems, means there are more potential weak links for cyber criminals to exploit.

Because delays are costly for logistics companies and their customers, criminals may think they are more likely to pay to end a ransomware attack, making the industry a more attractive target.

Climate and environment

Almost half (47%) of respondents placed climate change and environment among the top global trends affecting supply chain risks.

Logistics firms are under a lot of pressure to help their clients meet their carbon reduction targets.

But there’s also pressure from governments to reduce emissions from transport more generally.

Climate impacts are also being felt in extreme weather events, which are increasing in frequency and pose a growing disruption risk.

Increased product complexity

Increased product complexity topped the list of underlying factors playing the greatest role in supply chain risks, named by 35% as a top concern.

This may reflect the challenges of transporting increasingly specialized and sensitive products and raw materials, for example for in the life science sector, especially as clients demand more contractual indemnities against delay and damage.

Economic risks

Economic uncertainty emerged as the second leading factor underlying supply chain risks, ranked by 30% among their top concerns.

The sector is at risk from price and wage rises, volatile fuel and energy costs and falling consumer demand.

If inflation dips back to near normal levels by the end of 2023, it could ease some of these pressures.

Geopolitical risk

Geopolitical risk was among the factors thought to have the greatest impact on supply chain risks, rated by 54% as medium and 29% high impact.

The Ukraine conflict has disrupted some road and rail routes between Asia and Europe, while simmering tensions in the China Sea could put cause problems for more global routes in the future.”

Oliver Scarr | Head of Cargo, Asia

The conflict in Ukraine has disrupted some road and rail routes between Asia and Europe, while simmering tensions in the China Sea could put cause problems for more global routes in the future.

We’re also seeing more claims against logistics firms for customs errors as a result of complex documentation requirements post-Brexit.

Onshoring

48% of respondents said onshoring and near-shoring were among the top global trends affecting their supply chain risks.

As more products are sourced and manufactured closer to home, there will be fewer goods being transported around the world, which will impact demand for logistics services.

Pandemics

Though we may be past the acute disruptive impacts of COVID-19, the risk of a new strain of the virus, or a new unforeseen pandemic, seems to be still front of mind, topping the list of global trends with the greatest influence on supply chain risks at 56%.

3 key findings

63% said losses related to the supply chain had been higher or much higher than expected over the last two years.

85% of businesses said they have made at least some improvements in their approach to supply chain management in response to the pandemic.

77% cited a lack of insurance solutions among the greatest challenges to addressing their risks over the next three to five years.

Squaring the logistics circle

Logistics companies see supply chain risk from all angles. They need to manage not only their own risks but those of the companies they work for.

That’s not an easy balance to strike.

These challenges look set to grow as the risk of supply chain disruption stays high and customers demand more, both in terms of service delivery, sustainability and contractual obligations.

Wider external factors, from geopolitics to cyber security increase the need for careful risk management.”

Oliver Scarr | Head of Cargo, Asia

Wider external factors, from geopolitics to cyber security increase the need for careful risk management.

Our survey shows that businesses are working to overcome problems and considering a range of strategies to increase resilience.

But they’re hampered by a lack of appropriate insurance solutions and difficulty getting hold of enough accurate data to manage their risks.

Working more closely with customers and partners can help companies understand their supply chains better and address these risks.

Diagnostic mapping and monitoring tools and analytics can help to visualize, quantify and assess risks across the chain and in specific locations.

WTW has an experienced team of experts with the tools and competencies to help clients understand their supply chain vulnerabilities and align their operations to reduce financial risk.

We can also help you manage and transfer risks for both property-related and pure economic losses, helping you build greater resilience against future shocks.

Download your report

To learn more, download your free survey report by completing the short form at the top of this page.

For more information, please contact

Oliver Scarr
Head of Cargo, Asia

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