|Great customer experience depends on providing customers with what they want when they want it — and that’s only possible by building and maintaining a high-performance supply chain. Jeff Stiles, GVP of Oracle Cloud Solutions Marketing, examines four ways to help boost your organization’s supply chain performance.|
Your customers don’t care how you provide a great customer experience, but they’ll reward you when you do – and switch to your competition when you don’t. The key to a great customer experience is consistently providing customers what they want when they want it. It’s a concept I call “perfect delivery,” and it hinges on building and maintaining a high-performance supply chain. But how do you do that? Here are four ways to help boost your organization’s delivery metrics.
Order management and logistics are the foundations of your supply chain. Without a robust fulfillment capability, you’ll constantly struggle to orchestrate the perfect delivery and provide a seamless customer experience. Complexity often gets in the way of frictionless orchestration of supply chain operations. Disconnected platforms and silos across multiple channels can act as speed bumps in your fulfillment process. This built-in “latency” can prevent you from quickly balancing inventory across your supply chain and maintaining the resilience you need when you confront unexpected events.
To boost supply chain performance, you need to cut friction and latency down to as close to zero as possible. Start by simplifying and automating your order management and logistics processes and practices by moving to a unified cloud-based platform.
With an integrated cloud platform, you can more easily orchestrate and streamline complex orders across multiple stocking locations. Meanwhile, cloud-native integration with planning systems and analytics lets you accurately predict and respond to demand fluctuations. Warehouse managers now have greater visibility into what’s coming their way. They can deploy labor more efficiently and fulfill orders with greater speed and accuracy.
Over the past year, companies have grappled with sudden, unpredictable market changes. Organizations tried to pivot their supply chains to adapt to immediate shifts while gearing up for new challenges on the horizon. The most resilient organizations anticipated and did a great job accelerating planning cycles and adapting to the turbulence, and many even saw dramatic growth. But many others struggled.
Market volatility and risk aren’t going away anytime soon. That’s why when it comes to their supply chains, companies are focusing less on pure cost savings and more on qualities like adaptability, speed, and risk reduction. Consequently, they are taking a closer look at the performance of their traditional supply chain systems.
More companies are reengineering their supply chains for resilience. They are shifting to suppliers that are closer to home, thus avoiding the risk of global disruptions. And they are adopting omnichannel ordering and fulfillment systems to provide alternative pathways to work through unforeseen bottlenecks.
Here again, cloud-based platforms offer the flexibility to adapt swiftly to shifting business and logistics requirements. Many of these platforms now offer emerging technologies such as IoT sensory data to detect problems early, machine learning and scenario modeling to recommend timely course corrections, and blockchain solutions to connect trading partners across supply networks and lock in trust.
Process standardization – one of the prime advantages of an integrated cloud platform – is another way that companies can adapt and scale their supply chains for better resilience and growth. By offloading the costs and complexities of heavily customized, on-premise supply chain systems, companies can slash technical debt and IT overhead.
Cloud-based standardization also enables organizations to shift those resources toward innovation. For example, one of our customers consolidated several ERP systems into a single, cloud-based ERP system, allowing it to open multiple new factories in Asia during the height of the pandemic last year.
To capitalize on global disruption, companies have been racing to bring out new products and have seized new markets and minted new business models in the process. Rapid, ongoing product, and service innovation – I call it “continuous innovation” – is now foundational to a high-performance supply chain.
But to succeed at continuous innovation, you need to have an integrated view of the product lifecycle — from idea to commercialization. Conventional product-development approaches – that’s when designers hatch a new idea and then “throw it over the wall” to supply chain teams tasked with figuring out how to plan for, manufacture, and distribute it – are no longer good enough. Not in an economy where nimble competitors are moving ten times faster than you.
To remain competitive, companies need to integrate product development and supply chain activities concurrently, in real-time. Once again, shifting from legacy on-premises systems to the latest cloud supply chain platforms will give you the tools to innovate faster and keep you constantly up to date with new capabilities. Many cloud supply chain solutions, for example, can deliver innovation every 90 days – as soon as new functionality is available.
We’re working with a company that consolidated its 160-plus existing disparate systems onto one application suite, which liberates its IT staff from having to upgrade, customize, and maintain all of those applications. The company can now deploy IT resources to higher-value projects. Consolidating on one application suite has also reduced licensing costs by 10%.
The complexities of global trade continue to multiply. Regulations and cross-border requirements are escalating, along with steep fines and penalties for non-compliance. You can tame the complexity and boost supply chain performance by gaining visibility into your international trade operations.
For example, new transportation and trade management tools can help companies plan shipment routes to minimize taxes and customs fees and produce accurate customs and trade documentation to avoid penalties and delays. By moving to a global trade management solution in the cloud, a leading manufacturer of biomedical testing equipment now automates and monitors its cross-border transactions. One of the company’s IT logistics managers said, “It helps us efficiently coordinate and manage a complex global supply chain while complying with ever-changing rules and regulations.”
In addition, a dairy manufacturer and distributor implemented a cloud-based transportation management solution last March just as the pandemic took hold in the United States. This enabled the organization to manage the highly unexpected peak in demand without interruption.
By tracking the movement of products globally, you can optimize shipping routes to cut costs and speed shipments to factories, warehouses, and end customers. Meanwhile, new blockchain and IoT applications take visibility even further, allowing you to track the flow of goods and services down to individual lots and monitor the condition of goods in transit. Cross-border supply chain visibility enables trading partners to work together with less friction and build more trusting relationships.
These are just a few ways that companies can boost supply chain performance and lay the groundwork for a perfect delivery, which translates into stellar customer experiences that reward you time and again.