If this sounds futuristic to you, you are probably still relying too heavily on your enterprise software. The reality is, success in the supply chain industry is moving toward total, integrated, end-to-end automation. It's not about a piece of software anymore. It's about the ecosystem surrounding your business.
Manufacturers, suppliers, distributors, buyers, sellers and the end consumer are all in on the conversation - and the consumer is the center of attention.
To best serve your customer these days - at the lowest cost to you - you must have an adaptive supply chain environment that ties all the players and sub-systems together. Warehouses must synchronize with transportation, which must communicate with sales portals, which must tie into consumers.
And this all has to be done through a responsive service network that is capable of flexibly shift-shaping around weather, pricing, seasonal and other unforeseeable events and influences. Anything less will cost you market share and business, as consumers acting on impulse do business with providers who react in real time.
Transparency across the supply chain is vital in an environment such as this. Orders placed on smartphones and wireless tablets will multiply as technology races forward. Events that occur in one area of the chain will impact systems in another.
Partners who can automate their response, dispatching product over optimized routes in communication with customers, will win out. This will require not only interoperability among systems, but also cooperation and agreement among the various supply chain players. You must break down the barriers to succeed.
Consider the way you manage your exceptions. The "80 percent" is not where you get bit; it's the "20 percent" that drives up cost. Gained efficiencies here will be the measure of success moving forward, as exceptions represent service differentiation; and service differentiation, in turn, creates new customers, loyalty and improved profit margins.
Considering today's growing, worldwide, interactive marketplace, I believe survivors in our industry must embrace a disruptive paradigm shift in order to make it to the next level. The shift will require seamlessly blending ERP solutions within larger ecosystems, based on customer-centric business strategies. This goes beyond fitting a transportation system into a distribution system - to advance, you must gather all the experts around the table and solicit buy-in, input and a commitment.
My short list of who should be at the table would include marketing, retail, CRM, WMS, purchasing, internet, promotional, HR and finance people. They all need to be involved in a planning discussion centering on what works now and what will be required to improve moving forward. Here are some key issues they need to address:
"¢ Do you outsource to gain efficiency or is a certain process better managed within the organization? Talk to customers and ask them what you do well, what needs improvement, what they would like, and how best you might interact with them in the future. Pay attention to how they buy and then what they like and analyze how your supply chain can better support their real needs, wants and desires.
"¢ Do your customers buy one or two pieces a year, or do they place regular, frequent orders? Do they buy online or shop at stores? How do they respond to promotions? How do you best target them, providing what they really want without wasting their time and money, as well as yours, in filling specific requests? Your answers to these and other questions will dramatically affect your forward progress.
I believe that if you can effectively and efficiently manage the exceptions - get the customer what he or she wants in that challenging, 20-percent difficulty range - you will capture the remainder of their business in a breeze.
The good news is, your trajectory to the ideal is not insurmountable. You can launch your solution today. Start with an analysis of your needs and follow with a frank, open discussion, leading to a transformational road map.
As you take your current system forward, begin to outsource, replace and update your system, building a more responsive, intelligent supply chain environment - step by step, plug-in by plug-in. Soon, you will be serving your customers as intuitively as they shop, collaborating with partners more effectively, and separating yourself as a supply chain powerhouse.
The future will then be yours, most likely along with many of your competitor's customers.
Source Headline: IBS
Keywords: retail supply chain, supply chain solutions, value chain IT, supply chain management IT, enterprise management software
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