During the last two years, something that most consumers never even thought about has become one of the hot topics of conversation in almost every home and office: the supply chain. Whether you’re a consumer, a buyer, or a supplier, nearly everyone has experienced product shortages, stock-outs, and delivery delays; entire shelves in many grocery stores are still empty.
When delays became the norm, consumers began putting on-time deliveries ahead of company or store loyalty. According to an Oracle survey of American consumers, 80% said delays would prompt them to stop buying from a brand. What caused businesses to get into this situation, and what will it take to make improvements?
First, let’s explore some causes and pain points.
Obviously, the global pandemic has been a major factor in supply chain disruptions—but it’s only one of many. The pandemic exposed one of the major weaknesses in many companies’ supply chains: a lack of real-time visibility. Supply chain professionals have ranked visibility as one of their top logistics challenges, along with related cost control.
Among the top obstructions are siloed legacy systems that restrict real-time viewing of the supply chain landscape. The result can be late deliveries, out-of-stock situations, and increased expediting costs to handle last-minute scheduling surprises. A lack of visibility into current transportation assets, capacity utilization, and warehouse space can make it difficult for companies to determine the cost-to-serve, affecting company profitability.
Shipping delays can also affect products with limited shelf life. If you don’t have a way of monitoring the condition of products in transit, you run the risk of spoiled merchandise—and spoiled profits. Moreover, you can’t provide customer alerts and up-to-date information, making it more likely that your customers might switch brands—not only because of delivery delays and poor product quality, but also for not keeping them in the loop of when and where their orders will arrive.
Most businesses don’t have their own transportation fleets to deliver products. When you lack an effective system of coordinating and collaborating with carriers and suppliers, you can end up in the dark, not knowing where a delivery stands. And that can add another strike against you when customers ask, “Where is my product, and why hasn’t it arrived?”
In the past, it was common for supply chain managers to call a carrier or supplier for details and a quick fix. But with an unprecedented volume of disruptions and backorders, the average supply chain manager would have to make hundreds of calls a day. Manual processes like these are more than impractical; they’re obsolete. They’re slow; they lead to hours of managers and customers waiting on hold; and they’re prone to human error—which can not only influence delivery and customer satisfaction, but also regulatory compliance.
Imagine if you had a solution to deliver the right products to the right customers, at the right time and place, and under the right conditions. That’s the idea behind connected logistics. It takes advantage of automation technologies in the cloud—like robotic process automation (RPA), artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and the internet of things (IoT)—to help you see and access your supply chain end to end: a single source of truth. Connected logistics is a way to quickly and effectively coordinate and collaborate with suppliers and carriers, process orders, and respond and adapt to changes on the fly. Here’s how it works:
RPA and AI can be used to connect applications, systems, and people in the supply chain, as well as automate, accelerate, and streamline processes. AI-embedded digital assistants can automatically coordinate and launch activities and communications, serving as first contact with customers. Machine learning can be used to predict transit times, prepare for disruptions, and enhance decision-making.
IoT sensors placed throughout a supply chain can provide real-time reporting on the state of in-transit shipments and the condition of products on those journeys—measuring things like temperature or humidity, and sending automatic alerts to supply chain managers if a shipment is at risk of spoiling. Managers can immediately take corrective action to prevent the loss of goods.
Seventy percent of supply chain professionals see cloud solutions, offering anytime and anywhere access with internet capability, as a game-changer for meeting logistics challenges.
Oracle Logistics, part of the Oracle Cloud SCM suite, incorporates comprehensive, best-in-class automation technologies. We help you meet your supply chain challenges, helping you see what’s happening and make immediate and long-term changes, if necessary. Oracle Logistics offers a wide range of capabilities to help you: