For shippers in the healthcare and life sciences industries, the stakes are high. New innovations are leading to global demand for increasingly sophisticated products. Supply chains will need to be equally innovative and sophisticated in order to meet the expectations of consumers while also complying with complex rules and regulations, which means shippers will need even more data and visibility into their shipping profiles to stay competitive.

To better understand the challenges facing healthcare and life sciences logistics decision makers, UPS® conducted a “Pain in the Chain” survey. In it, supply chain professionals were asked about what has been important in addressing their supply chain difficulties, and what is still needed. Unsurprisingly, one of the biggest challenges is still managing logistics and transportation costs.


When asked to cite their biggest challenges in managing overall supply chain costs, respondents answered as follows:

  • Investments in Technology: 42%
  • Aging IT Systems: 38%
  • Lack of Visibility in Systems to Improve Cost Management: 38%

Though there are many factors that impact cost management—some that fall on the shippers, but some due to circumstances outside of their control like fuel costs, regulatory requirements, and more—it’s easy to pinpoint a common trend among the companies struggling to solve these issues: technology. More and more shippers are realizing the benefits of technology in helping to optimize costs, but they’re struggling to make the tech work for them.

It’s interesting, then, that companies who have found success in cost management say much of their success is due to logistics partners and technological investments. When asked what strategies most contributed to their success in driving down costs, here’s what North American shippers said:

  • Logistics and Distribution Partnerships: 69%
  • Leveraging a Supply Chain Optimization Analysis: 59%
  • IT Investment: 57%

In other words, these shippers have been most successful in managing costs by strategic logistic partnerships and technologies that create greater visibility into their shipping profiles.

While these insights are critical for those who hope to stay competitive in the healthcare and life sciences industries, these are equally important takeaways for shippers in other industries trying to optimize their own supply chain cost management decisions. With greater insights into your shipping profile through data and technology, shippers are well poised to take on increasingly high stakes and competitive supply chain environments.