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Opinion
The Editors

How Companies Can Help Solve the Supply Chain Mess

If more firms in the private sector adopted well-known best practices, the entire system would work a lot more smoothly.

Bullwhipped.

Bullwhipped.

Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

There’s no shortage of explanations for the logistical snarls denying consumers the abundance they once took for granted. Persistent pandemic-related shutdowns, extreme weather, demand swings, hoarding, politics, underinvestment in infrastructure, and just plain bad luck have all played a part in fouling up supplies of everything from toilet paper to automobiles.

It didn’t need to be quite this bad. President Joe Biden talked to the leaders of Walmart Inc., United Parcel Service Inc., FedEx Corp. and Target Corp. this week to see what might be done. He also announced some shifts of funding to help ports relieve logjams and said that parts of the infrastructure plan recently approved by Congress would guard against future disruption. For the most part, though, this isn’t a job for the government. If the manufacturers, distributors and retailers responsible for making and delivering goods had adopted some long-known best practices, the disruption could have been much less severe. These lessons are worth learning before the next time.