In our current commercial climate, global suppliers, retailers, and transportation management groups are under constant stress to keep up with demand. Customers, meanwhile, are growing more and more exacting. The recent explosion of online sales under COVID-19 has only accelerated the need for efficient delivery of goods to meet customer expectations.
Although achieving perfection is never easy, the goal of “perfect delivery” remains squarely in the sights of leading supply chain organizations around the globe. In Oracle’s recent SCM Virtual Summit, we spoke to four industry insiders—two experts and two customers—about current trends in supply chain management (SCM), as well as the future of “perfect delivery.”
We first met up with journalist Matt Leonard to explore the latest changes in supply-chain patterns that are affecting global transportation. Matt works as reporter at Supply Chain Dive, a publication covering news and trends in supply chain management, from procurement to last-mile logistics, and he has written over 600 articles about all aspects of SCM.
As a result of the pandemic, Matt has seen a lot of companies “pivoting and trying out new things.” In particular he’s seen an increased interest in regional third-party logistics providers which are seeing their business boom as they pick up shipments turned down by large carriers. New cloud-based transportation management systems will help facilitate this shift, connecting shippers with freight partners such as Uber Freight in order to gain visibility and prevent disruptions.
The trend toward adding capacity is also changing the shape of distribution centers, Matt says. Companies are looking for more warehouse space, labor, robotics, and other solutions that can handle the massive influx of products coming from e-commerce networks. Both FedEx and Walmart have announced plans to increase their investments in robotics.
Speaking of Walmart, Matt reports that their automated supply chain is “ready to scale.” This is likely to mean an explosion of growth in “micro-fulfillment centers that are increasingly automated and able to fulfill a customer’s orders without as much human intervention.”
IoT solutions and sensors are also playing a growing role in global supply chains as traceability becomes more and more important. “IoT is increasingly becoming table stakes for companies that want to have more visibility,” says Matt. Most recently, IoT sensors are becoming an integral part of the vaccine supply chain that help constantly monitor the temperature and safety of these critical supplies.
Next, we chatted with two representatives from Tramontina USA, a global culinary equipment brand. We talked about how they imagine “perfect delivery” from their perspective.
“In our previous system, we didn’t have visibility into supply planning and demand planning,” says Marcelo de Matheus, Tramontina’s chief information officer. “We had to do it manually.” The company’s outdated SCM systems left their end-to-end shipping operation unorganized and inefficient—and their customers suffered as a result.
However, thanks to their decision to implement Oracle’s cloud based SCM solution, Tramontina experienced better response times with more transparency. The transition to the cloud was seamless: “We just turned off one system and brought the other one on. They will keep working as they were before,” Marcelo says. “We provide a better response time because we’re now integrated.”
With so many of Tramontina’s customers homebound and needing quality cooking supplies, demand skyrocketed. Whether their customers were reaching their product on their marketplace online, or through their retailers, the company needed an SCM tool that could flexibly manage multiple consumer channels.
Roberta Gewehr, senior marketing manager at Tramontina, says, “We were there providing any tool that they need. We needed to be sure they are receiving the product fast, and Oracle helped us a lot with that.”
We also heard from Mohamed Absar, chief of staff for Logistics and Technology at DP World, a port and marine operator active in over 60 countries. The company has integrated Oracle Transportation Management and Oracle Warehouse Management in countries like Peru and India. With its operations spanning multiple time zones, perfect delivery was imperative in order to keep costs down and speed decision-making.
“Oracle provides a beautiful solution that can connect the different sections of the organization,” says Mohamed, “so that the information flows seamlessly, and the customer gets the required delivery with predictability. This helps a lot in terms of bringing value to the customer and increasing satisfaction.” As Mohamed explains, Oracle Cloud SCM helps DP World provide visibility to the customers so they “get what they want, when they want it, with less cost.”
Finally, we spoke with Chris Cunnane, research director for Supply Chain Management at ARC Advisory Group, an industry analysis firm. Chris shared with us his view of “perfect delivery” and outlined three main pressures companies face today as they seek to optimize their supply chains:
According to Chris, the “perfect delivery” of the future will have to account for the proliferation of complex supply chains and increasingly omnichannel operations across the globe. “Driving perfect deliveries for global supply chains requires more than trade-compliant solutions,” Chris says. “Fulfillment applications that reside on a common platform can provide better end-to-end visibility, scenario planning, and responsiveness to disruptions, which are clearly bound to happen.”
The summit speakers all agree that the journey to “perfect delivery” is well underway. Both suppliers and distributers are optimizing fulfillment and shipment times in order to respond to growing demand from customers buying from hundreds of channels. Challenges remain – as we witnessed during the pandemic – but the long-term outlook is bright. In fact, cloud-based solutions are helping leaders adapt to the new supply chains as we speak. The “perfect delivery” of the future may not be so far off.