Pandemic-triggered retail and shipping disruptions exposed the cracks in traditional supply chains. As retailers navigated skyrocketing consumer demand, congested ports, and chaotic distribution centers, many found that their supply chains and logistics processes simply didn’t provide the visibility needed to adapt — resulting in operational setbacks and hits to their bottom lines.
As global developments continue to unfold, supply chains that aren’t modernized to provide end-to-end visibility won’t be able to navigate future reverberations. But with data-driven technologies, intelligent planning and nimble logistics, retailers can secure transparent processes and do more than just weather volatilities. By building with future disruptions in mind, they can safeguard every step of their supply chains with proactive alternatives and a future-thinking approach.
Modernized Supply Chains Do More Than Generate Data
The idea of modernized supply chains may conjure images of 3D-printed products and drone deliveries, but real-world modernization is actually more foundational. It involves integrating supply chains with data-driven technologies that enable companies to make smarter logistical decisions. Specifically, modernized supply chains assess and enable concurrency between different data inputs and outputs to identify which data is useful to inform operational insights.
Without data concurrency, retailers don’t have comprehensive visibility into their supply chain operations, and they’re unable to apply strategic data insights to logistical decisions. Think of the result as the fuzzy audio generated from a bad radio signal. Traditional supply chains that don’t synchronize their data to the right frequency receive “fuzzy audio” from their supply chains, or data that doesn’t tell the whole story.
But when supply chains leverage technologies and processes that boost data concurrency, they can secure a clear signal — i.e., the information they need to conduct historic and predictive analytics and plan for future disruptions. By applying dynamic, data-powered insights to their operations and planning, retailers bake proactivity into every step of their supply chain — creating a sourcing strategy that can navigate even the most challenging marketplace conditions.
5 Processes That Support Supply Chain Modernization
From enterprise solutions to sustainable sourcing, these five processes and tools can help lay the foundation for a fully modernized and future-thinking supply chain strategy.
1. Dynamic inventory: Dynamic inventory ensures you maintain appropriate product availability throughout your retail and distribution centers — especially when supply is constricted. Thanks to granular allocation management and inventory tracking, this approach can help you meet consumer demand. It also eases operational burdens on your retail and fulfillment teams.
2. Profitability insights: As consumer demand and shipping capacity evolves, profitability insights are critical in balancing customer expectations with business efficiency. Consider profitability metrics at every step of the order fulfillment process to ensure resources are used effectively — and apply profitability insights to execution and delivery planning.
3. Real-time reporting and intelligent planning platforms: Leverage a real-time reporting and planning platform to generate responsive data insights. This can flag operational bottlenecks and other logistical hurdles through dynamic reporting features, and it delivers data insights in a way that’s relevant and applicable to your sourcing logistics team.
4. Service-based partnerships: Give your supply chain a refresh by building partnerships centered around strategy and service, rather than just cost efficiency. Prioritizing service in carrier and logistics partnerships will ensure more accurate data sharing, greater stakeholder alignment and more reliable service in highly variable periods.
5. Sustainability key performance indicators (KPIs): Sustainable sourcing initiatives often take a backseat to cost and operational efficiency, but sustainable alternatives can significantly boost your supply chain’s resilience. Set sustainability KPIs in key logistical areas — like product design, materials sourcing and freight networks. These metrics will help you keep pace with consumer sustainability preferences, and they provide granular data insights that can be applied across business operations.
Modernized Supply Chains Take You From Reactive to Proactive
With future disruptions imminent, a modernized supply chain ensures you have the agility to navigate volatilities and continuously optimize your sourcing operations.
Take your supply chain from reactive to proactive by integrating data-driven tools and prioritizing end-to-end visibility. No matter how the marketplace evolves, this strategy will equip you with the future-thinking approach and dynamic alternatives to embrace retail changes and stay ahead of potential reverberations.
—David Food, Head of Supply Chain, Board International