In today’s Amazonian environment, the customer experience is of paramount importance.  Nothing else matters if the customer isn’t happy.  Thus, all the conversations going on about trade really just comes back to the customer.  What is the best way to service your customers?

In manufacturing circles, there are many elements converging to strengthen manufacturing in the United States including the following:

  • Mainly, there are lots and lots of customers in the U.S., and they all want products and services delivered rapidly (which is less conducive to producing half way around the world).
  • Customers change their mind frequently; again, last minute changes aren’t conducive to long transit times.
  • The new tax law has made the tax rates much more comparative to other nations.  
  • Deregulation has definitely made manufacturers more on par with other nations.
  • Technology improvements have made it more cost effective to produce in the U.S.

However, even though manufacturing is surging in the U.S., we live in a globally interconnected world.  Very few if any clients source 100% of all materials within the U.S.  If you go to suppliers twice removed, you’ll definitely be in global territory.  Thus, global trade remains a key issue.  

In logistics circles, there is a lot of concern about the impacts of tariffs on global trade.  Will customers still bring in the same level of imports?  If not, how will that impact the ports, distribution centers and transportation?  On the other hand, it hasn’t slowed down yet.  The ports are having a record breaking year.  We’ve seen price increases start to occur as they are passed on to the next person in the supply chain.  However, the question remains – is this good or bad?  And will it substantially change the supply chain in any way?

Certainly there are a lot of heated discussions surrounding global trade.  We have clients who are positively impacted because it just makes them more competitive and is fairer with the rest of their industry.  And we have clients who are up in arms because their raw material prices are increasing and they are concerned about how to pass it on to their customers.  Will this put them at a disadvantage vs. a competitor who doesn’t source from overseas?  Or does it just even the playing field? 

Strategic decisions are beginning to be impacted as well.  For example, Ford decided to not produce a new small car in China.  With the 25% import tariffs, it no longer made financial sense.  A few clients are thinking about whether to expand into Mexico and the U.S.  There is uncertainty with NAFTA as well; however, the experts believe something will carry forward.  Or, perhaps with a resilient supply chain the key is to not guess and focus on your customer.  If your customers are in the U.S., Mexico is closer to the U.S. than China.  That is a fact that won’t change.  One thing is definite – things will continue to change and evolve.  Have you built resiliency into your supply chain so you can successfully navigate ever changing business conditions?