From Global to Local: The Ripple Effects of Reshoring and Market Consolidation

February 20, 2024

In the global economic landscape, two significant forces — market consolidation and reshoring — are reshaping the business world. These phenomena, extending beyond mere trends, have profound implications, particularly for small businesses and supply chains:

The power and peril of consolidation. For decades, industries, particularly the media sector, have seen a trend toward consolidation. This consolidation offers operational efficiencies and potential market dominance.

A market dominated by a few large entities reduces excess capacity, which can lead to significant disruptions from minor hiccups. 

This vulnerability becomes acute in supply chains, where the consolidation of suppliers or distributors can lead to a lack of redundancy and flexibility. The result is a more fragile supply chain, where a single failure can have cascading effects.

Reshoring: a double-edged sword. Reshoring involves bringing manufacturing and services back to the U.S. from overseas, aiming to revitalize domestic industries and balance trade deficits. While beneficial in some respects, reshoring poses challenges for small businesses, particularly in terms of increased labor competition and wage inflation.  

 This transformation could unintentionally lead to instability in supply chains, as traditionally agile and flexible small businesses might find themselves at a competitive disadvantage. The resultant consolidation of manufacturing within larger entities could lead to decreased supply chain diversity and resilience.

In the face of these challenges, automation emerges as a key strategy. Countries facing labor shortages, such as Japan and Poland, have turned to automation, reaping substantial benefits, according to the Reshoring Initiative, a Sarasota, Florida-based nonprofit organization. 

For small businesses, automation not only offers a way to mitigate rising labor costs but also enhances supply chain resilience. Automated processes can often be more predictable and less prone to disruptions than those heavily reliant on human labor.

In addressing the challenges posed by market consolidation and reshoring, small businesses can leverage a variety of affordable and user-friendly automation tools. These tools can enhance efficiency in several areas, including administrative tasks, marketing and customer relationship management. 

Among the available tools:

  • Zapier, which automates workflows by connecting various online services without the need for coding
  • (formerly Integromat), which offers visual automation of complex workflows across multiple apps
  • HubSpot, which provides customer relationship management and marketing automation for customer relationship and campaign management
  • Mailchimp. Known for email marketing, it also automates targeted campaigns based on customer behavior
  • Hootsuite or Buffer. These streamline social media management through post scheduling and performance analysis
  • Trello or Asana. These enhance project management with automation features for task and workflow efficiency
  • Calendly, which automates appointment scheduling, allowing clients to book based on your availability.

These tools represent just a snapshot of what’s available and can significantly contribute to the efficiency and adaptability of small businesses in today’s rapidly changing market environment.

The interplay between consolidation, reshoring and automation presents a multifaceted scenario. While there's potential for economic revitalization and advanced operations, challenges like wage inflation, reduced market flexibility and supply chain fragility loom large.

For small businesses, navigating this future requires adaptability, strategic foresight, and a willingness to embrace technological advancements. In particular, building a more robust and diversified supply chain will be key to thriving in these transformative times.

(Image credit: Getty Images/Melitas)

About the Author


About the Author

Thomas Dent, MBA, CPSM, CPSD, CPIM, CSCP, is a seasoned supply management  professional, specializing in  inventory management and  technological innovation.