Supply chains have become a strategic issue for business leaders.

Businesses are building resilience by strengthening control and transparency. And approaches to achieve this vary, perhaps reflecting the complexity of global value chains.

A number of themes emerge in how firms will prevent and detect disruption. Through mapping suppliers and buyers, companies can unearth hidden dependencies and plan for interruptions down to the component level.

This end-to-end visibility could help manage supply and demand more efficiently. This challenge surfaced through the COVID-19 crisis as supply shocks were followed by a collapse, then surge in demand. Being agile to allocate resource and financing rapidly can add capacity and avoid bottlenecks.


of businesses say they will digitise processing and adopt paperless documentation

Changes businesses need to make across primary suppliers in the next 1-2 years

Digitisation, data and technology are key enablers of visibility for businesses seeking to avoid any single point of failure.

The data suggest restructuring will result in vertical and horizontal integration. But companies are not turning inward.

On balance, more businesses are diversifying rather than restricting suppliers. And fewer than 1 in 5 are narrowing geographically across markets. Far from a narrow focus on reshoring, 1 in 5 are looking to expand suppliers within their region as a strategy to grow. Together, these steps could help mitigate the risk of one company or country being cut off.

Production moving closer to point of sale is a medium-term trend, aided by advances in robotics, AI and 3D printing. The data show steady investment in automation over the next few years, and it is the top development priority. This may see supply chains shorten in time to operate on a more regional basis.


will utilise 3D printing technology to enable more production on site

67% of businesses said their top priority was to increase control of their supply chain. This includes:

  • Identifying and securing critical suppliers (31%)
  • Reviewing the suppliers’ ability to withstand future uncertainty (30%)
  • Working with markets/countries that are more stable (26%)
  • Owning more of the supply chain (vertical integration) (22%)

44% of businesses said their top priority was increasing the transparency of their supply chain. This includes:

  • Increasing transparency in how their suppliers work – and who is in their supply chain (27%),
  • Creating a more traceable supply chain (26%)

The Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011 triggered an unforeseen shock to global car manufacturers. Supply chains were dependent on a single electronics manufacturer so close to the Fukushima nuclear plant that it shut down. This abruptly cut supply of microcontrollers, a type of custom chip used in cars, by around 40% – interrupting car production around the world.*

*The New York Times, 27 April 2011

The HSBC Navigator survey is conducted on behalf of HSBC by Kantar. It is compiled from responses by decision-makers at 2,604 businesses, ranging from small and mid-market firms to large corporations, across a broad range of sectors.

The respondents hold influence over their company’s strategic direction and represent a broad range of roles: including c-suite, finance, procurement, supply chain, sales and marketing.

A total of 14 markets were surveyed between 28 April and 12 May 2020.

  • Americas: Canada, Mexico, USA
  • Asia Pacific: Australia, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Mainland China, Malaysia, Singapore
  • Europe: France, Germany, UK

Results have been weighted to be representative of markets international trade volume (World Trade Organization data for 2017-2018).

For further information about the research please contact:

Kate Woodyatt
HSBC Global Communications
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Note: There may be a slight discrepancy between the sum of individual items and the total as shown in the tables due to rounding.

Whilst every effort has been made in the preparation of this report to ensure accuracy of the statistical and other content, the publishers and data suppliers cannot accept liability in respect of errors or omissions or for any losses or consequential losses arising from such errors or omissions. The information provided in this report is not intended as investment advice and investors should seek professional advice before making any investment decisions.